Alcohol and Hemorrhoids: Can Alcohol Cause Them or Make Them Worse?

Alcohol is known to increase the risk of many health problems, leaving many wondering on just how many ways it may impact your health.

One such connection is between alcohol and hemorrhoids, which are swollen veins most often resulting from constipation. Continue reading to see how alcohol increases your risk of hemorrhoids and what you can do to treat and prevent this uncomfortable scenario.

Table of Contents

What Are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swollen veins located inside the rectum or outside the anus. In addition to being painful, itchy, and uncomfortable, they may also cause rectal bleeding.

Everyone has hemorrhoids, but they do not become a problem until they become swollen and enlarged, and that is the point when they may begin causing uncomfortable symptoms.

Can Drinking Alcohol Cause Hemorrhoids?

While alcohol will not cause hemorrhoids, drinking alcohol does increase your risk of developing them. Let’s further explore why.

The most prominent association between alcohol consumption and hemorrhoids has to do with dehydration. Alcohol can increase urine production, which results in you excreting more urine than your body normally would.

However, if you’re dehydrated, your body will absorb extra water from your stool as it travels through the intestines, trying to make up for the dehydration caused by drinking alcohol. Taking extra water from the stool, though, can cause it to become hard and dry, which then makes it harder to travel through the body. This is how dehydration increases the risk of developing constipation. 

Since it is harder to pass the stool when it is hard and dry, you are more likely to strain more when attempting to pass a bowel movement, which contributes to the development of hemorrhoids. 

Excessive alcohol consumption is also a common cause of high blood pressure. This can cause increased pressure in the vessels around the anus, resulting in inflammation and swelling and leading to hemorrhoids.

Finally, regular alcohol consumption may lead to obesity, increasing the risk of hemorrhoids because of chronic inflammation, venous congestion, and abdominal pressure. It may also lead to alcoholic liver disease, which also increases the likelihood of developing hemorrhoids.

Overall, these factors show that, while alcohol will not cause hemorrhoids, it affects the body in a way that can increase the risk of developing them.

Does Alcohol Make Hemorrhoids Worse?

Alcohol can make hemorrhoids worse, which is why it is often recommended for those with hemorrhoids to avoid consuming alcohol.

Alcohol can cause inflammation and pain in the hemorrhoids for the same reasons that it can increase the risk of hemorrhoids developing. Dehydration from drinking alcohol can cause constipation, which makes hemorrhoids worse and leaves you even more uncomfortable. Along those same lines, drinking alcohol raises blood pressure, which means your hemorrhoids will remain swollen and inflamed.

So, Is Alcohol Bad for Hemorrhoids?

Overall, alcohol is bad for hemorrhoids in multiple ways. Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of developing hemorrhoids because of their impact on the body, and this can also make existing cases of hemorrhoids even worse.

If you have had hemorrhoids before, or if you currently have them, it’s best to stay away from alcohol.

How to Treat Hemorrhoids?

For those with hemorrhoids, the following treatments can help you find relief from their symptoms.

OTC Pain Relievers

To help manage pain from hemorrhoids, try an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen.

Ice Packs

Since hemorrhoids are swollen veins, they can be quite painful, but applying an ice pack can help reduce swelling and make them more manageable pain-wise. Reducing swelling can also decrease the discomfort that comes from sitting down. 

Hemorrhoid Cream

To help ease the symptoms of your hemorrhoids, hemorrhoid cream is available. OTC options contain ingredients such as hydrocortisone, witch hazel, and lidocaine, which provide relief for any swelling, mild pain, or itching of external hemorrhoids. 

In general, it’s recommended to only use hemorrhoid creams for a week. If your symptoms persist after this time, it’s recommended to see a doctor.

Sit On Cushioned Surfaces

Sitting on hard surfaces can irritate your hemorrhoids, causing them to swell. By sitting on a cushion instead, you can help reduce their swelling while also keeping new hemorrhoids from forming. Not to mention, sitting on a cushion will be much more comfortable.

Avoid Straining

When going to the bathroom, avoid straining too hard while passing a bowel movement, as this can worsen hemorrhoids.

If it is a challenge passing bowel movements, try eating more fiber, drinking more water, exercising more, or taking a stool softener.

Keep It Clean

Hemorrhoids can quickly become irritated if they are not clean, so it is recommended to bathe or shower daily with warm water. After you are done bathing, be sure to gently pat the area dry or use a hair dryer to dry the area.

Try a Sitz Bath

A sitz bath is a warm, shallow bath that you sit in to ease pain and itching. While you can get a tub specific for a sitz bath, you can also use a regular bathtub filled so that the water only covers your hips and buttocks. Sit in the bath two to three times a day for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.

To get the most out of your sitz bath, be sure to pat the area dry afterward to prevent it from becoming irritated.

How to Prevent Hemorrhoids?

While alcohol use may increase the risk of hemorrhoids, several other factors play a role, such as diet, weight, and ease of passing bowel movements. Knowing this, there are several ways you can help prevent hemorrhoids, such as:

Eat More Fiber

Fiber helps bowel movements move more easily throughout your gastrointestinal tract, which equates to less straining on the toilet.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Hemorrhoids are more common in those who are overweight, so staying within a normal weight range can help you reduce your chances of developing hemorrhoids. Some habits that can help you accomplish this include eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly.

Key Takeaways

Hemorrhoids are painful and uncomfortable swollen veins located around or inside the anus. They have many causes, most often stemming from increased straining due to difficulty passing bowel movements.

Alcohol is one contributor to constipation because it dehydrates the body and raises blood pressure, two factors that increase the risk of hemorrhoids. Furthermore, alcohol can worsen existing hemorrhoids by these same methods, which is why it is not recommended for those with hemorrhoids or a past experience with hemorrhoids to drink alcohol.

For those with hemorrhoids, home remedies are the most common treatment to ease bowel movements and relieve symptoms of discomfort. If your hemorrhoids persist, though, it’s recommended to see a doctor. With DrHouse, you can meet with an online doctor in just 15 minutes to discuss your hemorrhoids and what you can do to treat them.

Sources:

Content on the DrHouse website is written by our medical content team and reviewed by qualified MDs, PhDs, NPs, and PharmDs. We follow strict content creation guidelines to ensure accurate medical information. However, this content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information read our medical disclaimer.

Always consult with your physician or other qualified health providers about medical concerns. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it based on what you read on this website.

If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

DrHouse

Healthcare

on your schedule

Skip the unnecessary waiting room,
see a board-certified clinician now.

Start an Online Visit
Available in 50 states. No insurance needed.

Prescriptions as needed
Renew or get a new Rx.

On-demand virtual visits
See a clinician in 15 minutes.

24/7 care support
We are here to help you.

DrHouse
  • 1

    Download the DrHouse app.
    Set up your free account in a minute.

  • 2

    Start a visit with an online doctor. Wait time is less than 15 minutes.

  • 3

    Get an Rx from your preferred pharmacy. Pick up a Rx nearby or get it delivered to you.

Download our app