What are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are nothing more than varicose veins in a particularly uncomfortable spot. The blood vessels that drain blood from the tissues of the rectum form a complex network of interlacing connections called the hemorrhoidal plexus. These rectal blood vessels, like the ones in the lower leg that you usually think of as varicose veins, can weaken under prolonged pressure and become distended with blood. The prolonged pressure in the rectal vessel can come from excessive weight gain, pregnancy, or chronic constipation that causes you to strain with bowel movements. The condition occurs more commonly in people who sit a good portion of their day; therefore, if you work as a truck driver or a secretary, for example, you have a higher likelihood of developing hemorrhoids.

HemorrhoidsJust as with varicose veins in the legs, blood flow in the dilated hemorrhoidal vein can become so sluggish that a clot forms. When this occurs, the normal pain and itch of your hemorrhoidal tissues becomes suddenly excruciating. The remedy for a clotted (or thrombosed) hemorrhoid is lancing—your physician must open the hemorrhoid and remove the clot—and this quick and relatively easy office procedure will give you nearly instant relief of pain.

What can you do nutritionally to help a hemorrhoid problem? Let's take a look in Hemorrhoids diet.

What makes Hemorrhoids worse?

•  A diet high in refined sugar will worsen your hemorrhoidal problems in a number of ways: High sugar intake increases insulin and high insulin can increase your weight, your blood pressure, and your tendency to produce the "bad" eicosinoid messengers from essential fatty acids. These bad messengers promote inflammation, pain, and swelling, as well as clotting of blood. Recommendation: Eliminate or sharply reduce your intake of all refined sugars, including table sugar, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, and all products made with these substances.

• Narcotic medications, such as codeine and hydrocodone, promote constipation, and that worsens your tendency to develop hemorrhoids. Recommendation: Of course, you should take such medications only under the direct supervision of your personal physician—who has prescribed them for you—and even then, you should limit the amount you take to the fewest days possible to avoid their constipating effect.

•  Chronic use of aspirin can also cause constipation. Recommendation: If you suffer with hemorrhoids and are constipated, avoid taking aspirin on a regular basis. Two tablets once in a while for a headache won't hurt, but daily intake can cause problems. Substitute acetaminophen for minor pain when possible. If you must take aspirin for other medical conditions, you might not become as constipated if you use a buffered aspirin. These formulations contain a magnesium antacid that helps to protect the stomach but also helps to loosen the stool.

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