Pain in your derriere? Here are some common sense ways to prevent hemorrhoids that do not involve dried toads.
Throughout human history, hemorrhoids have literally been a pain in the butt. The first documented mention of hemorrhoids was made in the Papyrusof Eber about 1500 B.C.. In the Old Testament, hemorrhoids, or “emerods”, are noted to be a particularly unpleasant condition ("... the hand of the Lord was against the city with a very great de- struction and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts.").
Accordingly, humans have devised creative ways to deal with the cushion of engorged arteriovenous channels and connective tissue. In the Middle Ages, patients were advised to wear amulets of dried toads and other useless symbols to prevent hemorrhoids. Today, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone touting the benefits of wearing animal carcass to achieve a healthy derriere.
The exact mechanism of hemorrhoid formation is unclear, but basically anything that puts pressure on the veins in the lower body can lead to hemorrhoids. For most people, constipation is the most common reason for the increase in pressure. It’s thought that constipation leads to chronic straining, resulting in the laxity of the supportive tissue in the anal canal. For this reason, eating a diet with at least 20 grams of insoluble fiber with plenty of water a day and avoiding medications that constipate can help prevent hemorrhoids for most people. For those who view the bathroom as a retreat from housemates, prolonged sitting on the toilet can be another source of anal strain. As such, it is recommended that patients immediately respond to the urge to defecate and that they limit time spent pooping to no more than 3 to 5 minutes a day. Instead of using the toilet as a reading chair, get up and move around. Routine moderate physical activity, such as at least 20 minutes brisk walks, can stimulate bowel function.
It’s not fancy science, but following these common sense dietary and lifestyle modifications can help keep “emerods” in check.