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Those with IBS know all too well the struggle this syndrome can cause for their time in the bathroom. Whether they are running in quickly or straining while on the toilet, it is undeniably unpleasant and painful. Adding to this is the possibility of developing hemorrhoids.
While IBS can cause hemorrhoids, there are actions you can take to relieve hemorrhoid-related discomfort and manage your IBS to prevent hemorrhoids from worsening or returning. Continue reading to learn more.
Table of Contents
- What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
- What Are Hemorrhoids?
- Can IBS Cause Hemorrhoids?
- What Other Complications Can IBS Have?
- How to Treat Hemorrhoids Caused by IBS?
- How to Treat IBS?
- When to See a Doctor?
- Key Takeaways
What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder affecting the stomach and intestines, and it is a chronic condition requiring long-term management.
Some of the common symptoms of IBS include:
- abdominal pain
- diarrhea, constipation, or both
- changes in bowel movement appearance
- changes in the frequency of bowel movements
Any pain associated with IBS is often related to passing a bowel movement, with symptoms generally improving once the bowel movement has been passed.
It is not entirely known what causes IBS, but a few factors appear to play a role. For instance, IBS can sometimes develop after severe diarrhea from a viral or bacterial infection, a condition called gastroenteritis. It may also be related to bacterial overgrowth in the intestines.
Stress may also play a role in IBS, with there appearing to be a connection between stressful events, especially in childhood, and more symptoms of IBS.
IBS can also be triggered by various things, such as food and stress. While food allergies rarely cause IBS, some people find that their IBS symptoms worsen when they eat or drink a particular type of food or beverage. Some common triggers include dairy products, wheat, beans, citrus fruits, cabbage, and carbonated drinks.
What Are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swollen veins located inside or around the anus. They generally result from increased straining while trying to pass a bowel movement, and they can be painful and itchy.
There are two types of hemorrhoids, external and internal, which have different symptoms.
Symptoms of external hemorrhoids include:
- pain or discomfort
As for internal hemorrhoids, these types rarely cause discomfort, but in some cases, bleeding may occur. Internal hemorrhoids may also push through the anal opening, which can cause irritation and pain.
Hemorrhoids generally develop because of increased straining when passing a bowel movement, which causes the veins in the anus to swell due to increased blood pressure.
Some factors that can cause increased straining or blood pressure, and may contribute to the development of hemorrhoids, include:
- having chronic constipation or diarrhea
- straining during bowel movements
- eating a low-fiber diet
- being obese
- sitting for long periods of time on the toilet
- regular heavy lifting
- being pregnant
- having anal intercourse
Can IBS Cause Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids can develop due to certain IBS symptoms, which makes those with IBS at greater risk of developing hemorrhoids.
First, the most obvious connection lies in the IBS symptom of constipation, which also results in increased straining while going to the bathroom. Even more, since IBS is a chronic condition, this straining can become more frequent, which further increases the risk of hemorrhoids.
While constipation has long been attributed to hemorrhoid development, recent research suggests that diarrhea can also contribute, showing that those with the diarrhea form of IBS may also be at greater risk of hemorrhoids. Furthermore, those with IBS often spend more time sitting on the toilet, which can further add to the potential development of hemorrhoids.
What Other Complications Can IBS Have?
Beyond hemorrhoids, IBS is also associated with other complications based on the type of IBS. Those with constipation may be at risk of anal fissure or tear, while those with the diarrhea variety may suffer from nutritional deficiencies or dehydration.
IBS can also have repercussions that extend beyond physical ailments, with it possibly affecting someone’s quality of life by causing mental health problems such as anxiety or depression.
How to Treat Hemorrhoids Caused by IBS?
Treatment for hemorrhoids often begins with home remedies, with those for hemorrhoids due to IBS usually centering around making bowel movements more regular and offering relief from the uncomfortable symptoms.
Surgical intervention may be needed in cases where home remedies do not help, which might be more common in those with IBS since management can be more difficult. However, the first step is always various home remedies to see if they can help treat hemorrhoids before needing a more invasive procedure.
Hemorrhoid cream is a topical treatment applied directly to the hemorrhoid. It contains ingredients such as hydrocortisone, witch hazel, and lidocaine, which offer relief for mild pain, itching, and swelling. Hemorrhoid cream can be found over the counter (OTC), but a doctor may prescribe a stronger version.
For those using hemorrhoid cream OTC, it’s recommended to use it for a week, and if your symptoms persist after this time, then see a doctor.
Try a Sitz Bath
Is the pain and itching of your hemorrhoids distracting you from completing anything else in your day? Try out a sitz bath, which is a warm, shallow bath that you sit in to relieve your discomfort. There are specific tubs for sitz baths, but you can also use your normal bathtub with enough water to cover your hips and buttocks.
Sit in the water for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, 2-3 times a day, to help manage your hemorrhoids.
Those with hemorrhoids from IBS often get it from excessive straining to pass a bowel movement, especially if constipation is the culprit. While it might be hard to stop straining, especially for those with IBS, steps such as drinking more water, eating more fiber, or taking a stool softener can help.
If home remedies aren’t helping your hemorrhoids, you may need a medical procedure, which your doctor will carry out at their office, an outpatient center, or the hospital.
Some medical procedures for hemorrhoids include:
- rubber band ligation
- infrared photocoagulation
- hemorrhoid stapling
The most common procedure is rubber band ligation, in which a doctor places a rubber band around the hemorrhoid’s base, cutting off its blood supply. This causes the hemorrhoid to fall off, removing any discomfort it has caused.
The other treatment options have similar end goals of removing hemorrhoids or causing them to shrink, and they are managed through different methods.
How to Treat IBS?
If IBS is behind your hemorrhoids, treating and managing your IBS will serve as the best way to treat your hemorrhoids and prevent more from developing.
The goal of IBS treatment is to relieve symptoms and help you live a life that is as symptom-free as possible.
For those with mild symptoms, they can often be managed by keeping stress levels low and implementing the following habits:
- eating high-fiber foods
- avoiding foods that trigger symptoms
- getting enough sleep
- drinking plenty of fluids
- exercising regularly
If certain foods trigger your IBS, your healthcare provider might also recommend eliminating them from your diet. Foods commonly eliminated include:
- high-gas foods
- FODMAPs (fermented oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols)
If your IBS symptoms worsen with stress, it may be recommended to try counseling to help manage your stress levels.
Furthermore, depending on the symptoms you experience with IBS, your doctor may recommend the following medications:
- fiber supplements
- anticholinergic medications
- anti-diarrheal medications
- SSRI antidepressants
- tricyclic antidepressants
- pain medications
There are also some medications specifically for those with IBS, such as:
When to See a Doctor?
It’s recommended to seek medical care if your symptoms have lasted more than a week, even with at-home treatments, or if you are ever bleeding from your rectum. Additionally, if your hemorrhoids worsen or get to a point where they affect your quality of life, seeing a doctor is recommended.
For those with IBS, seeing a doctor can also provide an opportunity to discuss the best way to manage your condition and prevent hemorrhoids from occurring.
If you are looking for a convenient way to discuss your symptoms with a doctor, DrHouse can help. In just 15 minutes, you can meet with an online doctor to discuss your concerns no matter where you are. Your doctor can discuss management options and medical treatments or prescribe medications to help you feel better.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a gastrointestinal disorder often characterized by constipation, diarrhea, or both. While wreaking havoc on your gastrointestinal tract, IBS can also come with some complications, including hemorrhoids.
For those with hemorrhoids from IBS, the best way to treat the hemorrhoids is by treating and managing IBS, which involves focusing on diet, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and avoiding trigger foods. Other treatments for hemorrhoids can help relieve their discomforts, such as sitz baths or hemorrhoid creams.
Hemorrhoids are not often a cause of concern, but they can be uncomfortable. If your discomfort lasts more than a week, be sure to see a doctor; they can help you find relief and better manage your IBS to prevent future problems.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – NIDDK. (2022). https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome
- Sandler, R., & Peery, A. (2019). Rethinking What We Know About Hemorrhoids. Clinical Gastroenterology And Hepatology, 17(1), 8-15. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1016/j.cgh.2018.03.020
- Mott, T., Latimer, K., & Edwards, C. (2018). Hemorrhoids: Diagnosis and Treatment Options. American family physician, 97(3), 172–179. PMID: 29431977.
- Camilleri, M. (2021). Diagnosis and Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. JAMA, 325(9), 865. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1001/jama.2020.22532
- Black, C., & Ford, A. (2020). Global burden of irritable bowel syndrome: trends, predictions and risk factors. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology &Amp; Hepatology, 17(8), 473-486. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1038/s41575-020-0286-8
- Lacy, B., Pimentel, M., Brenner, D., Chey, W., Keefer, L., Long, M., & Moshiree, B. (2020). ACG Clinical Guideline: Management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. American Journal Of Gastroenterology, 116(1), 17-44. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.14309/ajg.0000000000001036
- Chey, W., Keefer, L., Whelan, K., & Gibson, P. (2021). Behavioral and Diet Therapies in Integrated Care for Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Gastroenterology, 160(1), 47-62. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2020.06.099
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