Meet Dr. Donnica Video Introduction TV Appearances

Diseases & Conditions Today on DrDonnica.com Clinical Trials Decisionnaires FAQs Top Tips Fast Facts Debunking Myths News Alerts Celebrity Speak Out Guest Experts Women's Health Champions Books Women's Health Resources

Mission Privacy Policy Sponsors Press Room What's New? Contact Us

This website is accredited by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. We comply with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.


Hope Award

Send to a Friend

Alternatives to Laxatives for Hemorrhoids

Q: I suffer from painful hemorrhoids and I've been using laxatives for about six months to prevent straining during bowel movements. Trouble is, now I think I might be addicted to them. Whenever I stop taking the laxatives I get extremely constipated. Is there any way to break free of these pills and stay regular?

Dr. Donnica:
If constipation is the only symptom you have when you stop taking laxatives, chances are that you are not addicted to them. Laxative addiction and laxative abuse are terms we use to refer to situations in which people are misusing them as an inappropriate tool for weight loss. Usually those individuals have difficulty discontinuing laxative use and may have serious symptoms of withdrawal (such as palpitations, leg swelling, or weakness) when they do. In your case, it sounds like you have two different but related problems: how to treat your hemorrhoids and how to prevent constipation.

As you've recognized, an important step in hemorrhoid management is preventing constipation. Occasional laxative use is fine to treat constipation. To prevent it, first look at your diet. Drink 8 to 10 full glasses of water per day. Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables. Add fiber to your diet, either in your food choices or as a dietary supplement. Eliminate foods known to be constipating (such as bananas) and add foods known to be lubricating (such as raisins or prune juice). Certain medications can be constipating, such as iron and calcium supplements. Following a very-low carbohydrate diet may also exacerbate constipation. There's a reason that a regular morning walk is known as the "morning constitutional:" Aerobic exercise helps get everything in your body going, including your bowels. Good bowel habits are also important in the prevention of constipation. When you feel the urge to have a bowel movement, attend to that need as soon as possible, rather than "holding it" for a more convenient time or location.

You didn't mention how you were treating your hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are abnormally swollen veins in the rectum and anus, similar to varicose veins a person's legs. When these veins are irritated, they cause surrounding membranes to swell, burn, itch, become painful, and even bleed. Hemorrhoids are caused by too much pressure in the rectum. Risk factors and causes in addition to constipation and straining with bowel movements include constant sitting (especially sitting on the toilet for too long), diarrhea, severe or chronic coughing, pregnancy and childbirth, or heavy lifting. In addition to avoiding or reducing these risks, you can treat your hemorrhoids with sitz baths (soaking the rectal area in hot water, in a shallow bath) for 15-20 minutes, 3-4 times/day. Pain medicine may be used for the irritation, but the burning and itching respond best to surface-acting creams and suppositories such as Anusol or Preparation H. These may also help shrink the hemorrhoids. If using these techniques and treatments for up to 4 weeks does not provide relief, consult your physician. If you have severe hemorrhoid pain, see your physician immediately.

Created: 11/24/2004  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

All the content contained herein is copyrighted pursuant to federal law. Duplication or use without
the express written permission of DrDonnica.com subjects the violator to both civil & criminal penalties.
Copyright © 2006 DrDonnica.com. All rights reserved.

Home | Today on DrDonnica.com | Meet Dr. Donnica | TV Appearances | Clinical Trials
Diseases & Conditions | Decisionnaires | Celebrity Speak Out | Guest Experts | Women's Health Champions
FAQs | Womenís Health Resources | Archive | Books & Tapes | Site Certification | Advanced Search
Mission | Whatís New? | Press Room | Privacy Policy | Sponsors | Partners | Contact Us