According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 75 percent of all people will suffer from hemorrhoids at some point in their life – even though it is more common in older adults. Chances are you've known someone who has dealt with the pain, burning and itching associated with hemorrhoids, and these people probably told you a few facts about their condition. However, before you believe everything you hear, it's important to realize that not every so-called "fact" about hemorrhoids is true. Here are three common myths about hemorrhoids that simply aren't true:
Hemorrhoids Are an Early Sign of Cancer
One of the most common symptoms of hemorrhoids is blood in your feces. The small smear of blood occurs when your sensitive hemorrhoids become irritated. If you have hemorrhoids and you experience bleeding for several days or weeks, you might assume that the issue is something worse, maybe even colon or rectal cancer.
However, before you assume the worst, it is important to know there is absolutely no link between any types of cancer and hemorrhoids. Instead, there is likely another far less frightening reason why you are suffering from hemorrhoids, including:
- Constipation and straining on the toilet
- Lifting heavy objects
- Sitting or standing in one spot for too long
If you suffer from hemorrhoids and are suffering from continued bleeding and irritation, don't hesitate to contact your doctor right away. A small amount of blood and mild itching and irritation and completely normal. However, if you are bleeding excessively and have other symptoms, including excessive and persistent abdominal pain, bloating and gas, unexpected weight loss and a feeling like you can't empty your bowels, the problem could be more serious.
Sitting on a Cold Sidewalk Will Lead to Hemorrhoids
One of the oldest myths associated with hemorrhoids is a bizarre cause: sitting on a cold sidewalk or other chilly concrete surface. However, before you give up your spot at the yearly Christmas parade, it is important to note that sitting for a few minutes on cold concrete will not lead to hemorrhoids.
Actually, if you already have hemorrhoids, relaxing on a cool surface can actually help you find relief. This is because the cold temperatures will cause the protruding vein in your anus to actually retreat back into the warmth of your body.
Hemorrhoids can be caused by standing in the same position for several hours, however. This is because remaining standing in a single spot without sitting will place unnecessary pressure and strain on your rectum, which in turn can lead to hemorrhoids.
Your Love of Spicy Foods Led to Your Hemorrhoids
Finally, one of the most persistent myths is the link between consuming spicy foods and hemorrhoids. Consuming spicy foods will not lead to hemorrhoids, but eating your favorite Mexican dish or a plate of hot chili peppers could aggravate your hemorrhoids and lead to some of the common, uncomfortable symptoms associated with this condition, including burning and itching.
If you suffer from hemorrhoids and spicy foods seems to make the problem worse, avoid them. Instead, eat foods that are high in fiber, including whole grain bread, beans, bananas, raspberries and Brussel sprouts. Consuming fiber-rich foods can help you avoid constipation and straining to use the bathroom. Straining to pass a bowel movement can lead to hemorrhoids, or can make your existing hemorrhoids even worse.
Hemorrhoids are a very common condition that can be successfully treated and eliminated with the help of a proper diet and your doctor. If you suspect you have hemorrhoids, or if you have hemorrhoids and are suffering from the symptoms associated with this condition, don't hesitate to contact a doctor like Northwest Gastroenterology Associates.