The Link Between Alcohol and Hemorrhoids
If you tend to drink heavily, you might be at risk of developing hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are the most common cause of rectal bleeding which can be painful.
When you experience hemorrhoids, the veins in the lowest part of your anus and rectum are swollen. While defecating, these veins are stretched super thin which can lead to swelling and pain.
Table of Contents
- 1. Developing hemorrhoids
- 2. When to see a doctor
- 3. Drinking and bowel cancer
- 4. Diagnosing hemorrhoids
- 5. Preventing hemorrhoids
- 6. Treatment for hemorrhoids
- 7. Conclusion
- 8. References
There are two types of hemorrhoids: internal and external.
Internal hemorrhoids rarely hurt since there aren’t a lot of pain receptors that far into the anus. It can be hard to tell if you even have them unless you notice blood on your stool or on toilet paper after wiping.
Occasionally, prolapsed hemorrhoids can develop. These are generally irritated tissue that can bulge out of your anus.
These tend to be more painful while defecating. Oftentimes they will retract back into your anus or can be pushed back in gently.
External hemorrhoids, on the other hand, are located under your skin around your anus where there are many more pain receptors. External hemorrhoids tend to cause pain, swelling, irritability, and itching.
How do hemorrhoids develop?
1. Cirrhosis of the liver
Alcoholism can also lead to cirrhosis of the liver which makes it harder for blood to pass through the liver. To compensate, the body attempts to find different routes to deliver blood. These routes aren’t used to the extra blood having to move through and will, as a result, have a higher strain put on them. When this happens, hemorrhoids are more likely to develop.
When your body is dehydrated, actions such as defecating are much harder to do. As such, constipation can develop. When you’re unable to defecate, your veins are excessively strained which can cause irritability and hemorrhoids.
3. Excessive drinking
As a culmination of the two, drinking too much alcohol can lead to the development of hemorrhoids. While drinking a lot does not directly cause hemorrhoids, it can cause symptoms that in term make the development of hemorrhoids more likely.
Alcohol raises blood pressure and its nature as a diuretic leads to dehydration which increases your risk for constipation. With both causes of hemorrhoids, it’s no wonder a lot of people who drink suffer from this condition.
When to see a doctor
Even though hemorrhoids isn’t all that uncommon, it is still extremely important to speak to your doctor when they develop. Even though you see something you think is hemorrhoid, it could very well be some type of cancer or serious bowel disease.
If you experience a lot of pain or bleeding while defecating and you’ve tried hemorrhoid medication on your own, it’s time to see your doctor.
Excessive alcohol and risks of bowel cancer
Several studies have shown a correlation between colon cancer and drinking. People who consume about 10g of alcohol a day have a higher risk of developing colon cancer.
Further studies have shown men have a higher risk of developing colon cancer due to the ways in which different sexes break down alcohol.
At first, your doctor will conduct a visual examination. You will be asked to pull your knees to your chest so the doctor can more accurately diagnose any possible external hemorrhoids.
After this, your doctor may perform a digital rectum exam where they will insert a finger into your anus. If you feel anything strange, your doctor will perform a sigmoidoscopy where they will insert a camera into your rectum to check for internal hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids can cause pain and discomfort. While there are treatments for this condition, it is generally more preferable to not develop them in the first place.
If you are concerned you are at risk of developing hemorrhoids, here are a few suggestions which could help prevent them from developing:
1. Increase fiber intake
Fiber tends to loosen your stool so if you can make it easier to defecate, that is less strain on the veins in your rectum and will, therefore, decrease your chance of developing hemorrhoids. If you eat more foods such as whole grains, beans, fruits, wheat, and broccoli. Don’t eat a lot of fiber at once since that can cause excess gas.
2. Exercise more often
You don’t have to become an athlete, but try to walk around for an extra 25-30 minutes a day. Exercise can help make it easier to defecate which in turn puts less strain on your bowels.
3. Use the restroom when you need to
When you need to go, make sure you go. If you try to hold in your bowel movements, blockages can occur and cause unneeded strain. To establish an internal bathroom schedule, choose a few times each day to sit on your toilet. Your body likes to maintain a schedule so if you train it to use the restroom at the same time every day, that can alleviate the need to hold in your bowel movements.
Treatment for hemorrhoids
If you already have hemorrhoids, there are treatment options available for you:
1. Hemorrhoid creams
Several different hemorrhoid creams are available in stores without the need for a prescription. Some work to stop the pain caused by hemorrhoids for a short period of time.
You can also find wipes made from witch hazel that don’t cause any side effects but work to make your anal area feel better.
2. Using ice packs
You can also place an ice pack against your swollen hemorrhoids helps to combat any pain or swelling that may occur.
3. Taking a sitz bath
After you use the restroom, you can also try a sitz bath. All you have to do is sit in a bathtub with a few inches of warm water.
A sitz bath works to soothe your anus and hips which can lower the chance of swelling, irritation, or itching. It’s generally recommended to take a sitz bath for about twenty minutes after you use the restroom.
If you don’t want to draw a bath every time you need to use the restroom, you can also purchase a tub that sits on your toilet. Most pharmacies sell them so they’re not hard to find.
Analgesics is a medication that is a mix of aspirin and caffeine and treats several different types of aches and pains. It is usually taken on an as-needed basis.
If you pick up this medication or are prescribed it by your doctor, make sure you take it immediately after the first inclination of pain. Taking it while the pain is still bearable makes it more effective.
If you wait until it’s a lot stronger, it won’t be as effective. If you’ve bought this medicine over the counter, don’t take it for longer than ten days. If symptoms persist after ten days, visit your doctor because as medical intervention is likely to be required.
Commonly called a hemorrhoidectomy, during this procedure, any veins that are causing the hemorrhoids are removed.
This is only recommended after hemorrhoids return – even after a rubber band ligation – or if the lumps are especially large.
This particular procedure is extremely painful, but the hemorrhoids are completely gone in about 95% of cases.
Because of the high success rate, people who get this procedure are usually happy they got it. There is a pretty quick recovery time of just seven to ten days after the procedure.
Some doctors might opt to perform a hemorrhoidopexy where the hemorrhoids are anchored in place with staples. This procedure is usually used to treat internal hemorrhoids.
Like a hemorrhoidectomy, a hemorrhoidopexy is performed with the patient under anesthesia and is somewhat painful.
6. Fiber tablets
Fiber supplements do exist to help treat hemorrhoids. They help loosen your stool and alleviate some of the pain associated with hemorrhoids, allowing them to heal.
Like incorporating more fiber into your diet, you should do this gradually to prevent any bloating or gas associated with excessive intake of fiber.
7. Rubber band ligation
The most common treatment for hemorrhoids (in the US) is rubber band ligation. Doctors will constrict your hemorrhoids with a rubber band, which reduces the size of the lump.
This then scars the tissue around it to restrict the movement and growth of the hemorrhoids in the future. It generally takes around 3 visits to completely eradicate hemorrhoids and these visits occur around six to eight weeks apart.
While side effects or complications are uncommon, if they do occur, the patient will generally experience a little bit of pain which can be treated by a sitz bath. Light bleeding or infection are also possible repercussions, which should be reported to a doctor.
If you find that you might have hemorrhoids, visit a doctor and seek medical advice. If you have caught the problem early on, you might not have to have surgery.
If you want to reduce your risk of developing hemorrhoids, use some of the methods mentioned above. Most are not all that invasive and only require some minor tweaks to your daily routine.
About the author:
Jon writes for ADT Healthcare and a number of other websites. Jon graduated with a degree in psychology in 1992. Jon has been in recovery for 19 years.