Often the “butt” of jokes, hemorrhoids are no laughing matter; they can be one of the most painful modern afflictions around.
It’s certainly not the most serious ailment in the world, but hemorrhoids are painful enough to have a large impact on the lifestyles of those who suffer from them.
Though it isn’t something most sufferers like to talk about because of embarrassment, this anal rectal disorder has become a problem for an increasing number of folks in recent years, in part because it’s a very modern ailment.
Just how common are hemorrhoids? It has been estimated that about 75% of all people will suffer from them at some point during their lifetime. The most common sufferers are adults aged 45-65.
There are a number of causes for hemorrhoids. Some of these are natural, such as complications related to pregnancy. Others have to do with bowel habits, particularly irregular trips to the toilet because of diarrhea or constipation.
But many of the factors that cause hemorrhoids are lifestyle choices that were not even an option for those who lived thousands of years ago. They include lack of exercise, obesity and poor diet.
In particular, a sedentary lifestyle can cause hemorrhoids, and for many of us modern life is nothing if not sedentary. For example, odds are pretty good that you are reading this while sitting down, perhaps at a workstation, where you spend most of your work day.
Much of our time at home is spent sitting on the couch, at a desk or at the dining room table. Between work and home, we sit in cars or public transport vehicles.
Indeed, most of us sit for most of our day, which only adds to the pressure put on our backsides.
Preventing hemorrhoids involves going back to our caveman roots in several ways. For example, a diet higher in fiber helps to create softer stools that are easier to pass. In translation, that means eating less processed food out of the box, freezer or microwave, and more natural foods containing ingredients that help keep us regular.
Drinking water is another healthy choice. Specifically, six to eight glasses a day can be beneficial, if it is actually plain water and not just part of a liquid such as soda, coffee or juice.
Another lifestyle factor that helps prevent hemorrhoids is exercise. Most workouts keep the body upright and moving. That reduces the pressure that can cause hemorrhoids.
Even such a basic exercise as walking can help out; getting up from the desk to stroll for a few minutes several times a day can make a big difference.
One more lifestyle choice relates to the toilet. Sitting on the commode for extended stretches can lead to increased symptoms. That can be a special problem for those who view the bathroom as a relaxing oasis for catching up on reading.
Cavemen, of course, didn’t behave that way. They did their business and got on with matters. That’s a good plan today as well, especially if that relaxation time can be replaced with something a little more active.
Treating hemorrhoids may not be as difficult as other ailments. Ointments, creams and suppositories help. But it’s still far less painful to avoid getting them in the first place, which means replacing some modern habits with activities from an era when this was a rare problem indeed.
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