Hemorrhoids are sometimes referred to as piles, and they are small lumps inside your rectum and anus. There are many reasons one of these can form, and they cause varying degrees of discomfort.
It’s estimated that 1 in 20 Americans are affected by them, with 1 in 2 adults over 50 claiming to have hemorrhoids at some point. Today, we’re going to look at the link between stress and hemorrhoids – does stress cause them?
Can stress cause hemorrhoids?
Technically, stress can cause hemorrhoids.
However, like most things stress-related, the cause is usually indirect. Hemorrhoids are unlikely to be a direct symptom of stress, but rather an added issue that happens because of the effect of stress on your body.
One study concluded that stress was a risk factor for hemorrhoids as students, doctors, and businessmen all suffered from them more frequently. Alongside living stressful lives, it was thought that their lifestyle habits played a role too.
How can stress affect hemorrhoids?
There is no link between stress affecting existing hemorrhoids in the sense that it makes them worse. Nevertheless, the connection between the two starts in your digestive system. One of the key causes of hemorrhoids is pushing too hard when you go to the toilet. As a result, this has led to various studies showing a link between hemorrhoids and constipation. If you are constipated or having bowel issues, you are more inclined to try and force the matter, which puts pressure on the blood vessels in your rectum/anus, causing them to swell up.
As you may be aware, there is a definite connection between stress and your digestive system. One review article explained that stress can disrupt the homeostasis of your gut bacteria, leading to a wide range of symptoms. Of these symptoms, constipation and stomach pain are frighteningly common. Again, there was a study that backed this up, looking at girls in school with stress and concluding that over half of them suffered from constipation.
Consequently, high levels of stress can cause issues in your gut that may cause constipation and lead to bad toilet habits that create hemorrhoids.
Can stress cause hemorrhoids to flare up?
Yes, they can.
If you have previously had hemorrhoids, you may experience flare-ups when stressed. The reason for this is as seen above – your stress causes digestive issues and problems in your bowel that may lead to excessive straining when going to the toilet. If this happens regularly, your hemorrhoids are highly likely to flare up again.
How do you relieve stress?
The bad news is that stress is very easy to come by in modern times. Thankfully, there are different ways you can attempt to combat it:
- Exercise regularly
- Practice deep breathing
- Read a book
- Take a long bath
- Get a massage
- Figure out the cause of your stress and tackle it
Exercise is certainly one of the main weapons you have to fight against stress. There’s a lot of research done on this topic, with findings showing that 20-30 minutes of light aerobic exercise can help you feel much calmer right away. This is because exercise releases endorphins that make you feel better and less stressed.
A 2011 study also looked at the impact of meditation on stress-induced changes in cognitive functions. It found that a brief bout of meditation before stressful events helped individuals calm down.
The other techniques will also be handy in relieving stress, but the last point is perhaps the most important. You must figure out why you are stressed to know how to finally tackle the problem. Everything else may result in temporary relief, but stress will keep returning unless you identify why it is there and make steps to change things.
How do you cure hemorrhoids?
You’ll be pleased to know there are ways to treat hemorrhoids and deal with the common symptoms, allowing you to reduce swelling and irritation.
Hemorrhoid creams exist, usually containing hydrocortisone which helps to stem the swelling and make your piles reduce in size. Witch hazel is also useful as it can numb the hemorrhoids and prevent itching or pain.
Changes to your lifestyle will ultimately be the best way to ensure hemorrhoids are treated and don’t return. Focus on relieving yourself from stress and adopting better toilet habits. Don’t push too hard when you need to go – if you are struggling, try eating a high-fiber diet or taking laxatives to cure any constipation. Don’t hold in your poop either; this puts pressure on the blood vessels and is likely to lead to hemorrhoids. If you need to go, go!
Lastly, you can get some minimally invasive procedures to treat this problem. A sclerotherapy injection is perhaps the most common, injecting a chemical solution that shrinks your hemorrhoid.
When to see a doctor?
Generally, hemorrhoids shouldn’t be a cause for concern. However, if you notice that yours are causing a lot of pain and discomfort, contact a doctor right away. It is also worth seeing a doctor if your hemorrhoids are bleeding quite a lot.
Get help from an online doctor
Instead of waiting to book an appointment with your doctor, you can get help right away by seeing an online one. Download DrHouse today and you can easily make an on-demand virtual consultation with an online doctor. You will receive advice on how to deal with your hemorrhoids, alongside any prescriptions that might help – such as hemorrhoid cream.
In conclusion, stress can indirectly cause hemorrhoids by creating problems in your gut that lead to bowel issues. Primarily, these swollen lumps are the result of excessive straining when going to the toilet. You can treat them with topical ointments and creams, but adjusting your lifestyle is the most effective treatment available. Focus on ways to reduce stress levels in your life by figuring out what’s making you stressed and dealing with it head on.
- Definition & Facts of Hemorrhoids, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/hemorrhoids/definition-facts#
- ALI, S. Asif; SHOEB, Mohammad Fazelul Rahman. Study of risk factors and clinical features of hemorrhoids. International Surgery Journal, [S.l.], v. 4, n. 6, p. 1936-1939, may 2017. ISSN 2349-2902. Available at: <https://www.ijsurgery.com/index.php/isj/article/view/1437
- BHARAT GAMI, HEMORRHOIDS – A COMMON AILMENT AMONG ADULTS, CAUSES & TREATMENT: A REVIEW, International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences ISSN- 0975-1491 Vol 3, Suppl 5, 2011.
- P.C. KONTUREK, T. BRZOZOWSKI, S.J. KONTUREK, STRESS AND THE GUT: PATHOPHYSIOLOGY, CLINICAL CONSEQUENCES, DIAGNOSTIC APPROACH AND TREATMENT OPTIONS, JOURNAL OF PHYSIOLOGY AND PHARMACOLOGY 2011, 62, 6, 591-599
- Jackson, Erica M. Ph.D., FACSM. STRESS RELIEF: The Role of Exercise in Stress Management. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal: May/June 2013 – Volume 17 – Issue 3 – p 14-19 doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1249/FIT.0b013e31828cb1c9
- Amit Mohan, Ratna Sharma, and Ramesh L. Bijlani.Effect of Meditation on Stress-Induced Changes in Cognitive Functions.The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.Mar 2011.207-212.http://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2010.0142
- Sclerotherapy for Varicose and Spider Veinsm, WebMD. Available at:https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/cosmetic-procedures-sclerotherapy