No one likes discussing external hemorrhoids, but they are a fact of life for millions. Hemorrhoids are engorged veins around the anal area that have become so large that they protrude. They look very similar to varicose veins and can make it difficult to perform regular activities, including traveling.
We've prepared a few tips to help you manage the symptoms of external hemorrhoids during your travels, along with items that you should pack.
Buy a Hemorrhoid Pillow
Depending on how long the trip is, you may have to sit for extended periods. This is where a hemorrhoid pillow comes in handy. They are designed with extra cushioning to relieve some of the pressure on the hemorrhoids, lowering your pain and discomfort.
We found 'donut-shaped' pillows to be particularly helpful because they provide relief to the tailbone and make sitting much more comfortable. It is highly recommended to get both hemorrhoid pillows and donut-shaped pillows. Switch them every few hours to provide adequate support to your butt.
Walk Around for a Few Minutes
It's not a good idea to sit for too long because it could worsen your hemorrhoid symptoms. Provide relief to your butt by standing and walking around for a few minutes - let the restricted blood supply flow around the area. This advice applies regardless of how you are traveling.
If you are traveling by air, stand up and walk around (if it is safe to do so) to get the blood flowing and ease the pressure. Stop for a while to stand up and stretch your muscles if you are driving. This will reduce the possibility of injury, muscle sprains, and hemorrhoid flare ups.
Add More Fiber to Your Diet
Fiber absorbs water like a sponge and gives more shape and weight to your stool. A bulky stool is often easier to pass and decreases your chances of constipation. Fiber is particularly effective if you have loose or watery stools because it solidifies the fecal matter and adds bulk.
Make sure you have enough fiber (both soluble and insoluble) in your diet. The best food sources for traveling are prunes, pears, cherries, and apples. Make sure to select dried fruit without added sugar to restrict your intake of calories.
Experts recommend eating 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day to help with bowel movement.
Drink Lots of Water
Water in the stool makes it softer and helps it pass more smoothly from the anal area. In fact, being low on fluids is a common cause of constipation (which can worsen your risk of hemorrhoids). Water is a better alternative to other fluids because it has zero calories and is easily available.
Experts recommend drinking eight ounces of water per hour in the air. The longer your commute, the more liquids you'll have to take.
Bring a refillable water bottle with you to help keep track of how much fluids you're drinking.
Workout (if it is convenient for you)
Staying active can ease your hemorrhoids by increasing blood flow. With that said, do not engage in activities that require heavy weight lifting because they may worsen your hemorrhoids and cause flare-ups. We recommend performing low-intensity activities such as walking, running, and even swimming, if you have access to a swimming pool.
Pack the Following Items for Traveling with Hemorrhoids
It is a good idea to pack some supplies that can manage or minimize your symptoms if your hemorrhoids flare up during the trip. Below are a few items you should prioritize:
Toilet Paper: Always go for the softest toilet paper you can get your hands on because regular toilet paper can feel like sandpaper and worsen your symptoms. If you plan on traveling for a longer period, consider throwing in an extra roll or two into your backpack. High quality toilet paper isn't available everywhere and you may struggle to find them in hotels. So make sure to stock up on some good quality toilet paper.
Wet Wipes: Wet wipes that contain witch hazel, aloe, castor oil, and others will relieve rectal pain or itching after bowel movements. It is recommended to pack some of them in your carry-on if they are hard to find during your travels.
Over-the-counter (OTC) creams and ointments: These suppositories can help soothe the irritated skin. Recommended items should contain lidocaine to help with the pain or hydrocortisone to manage inflammation. Pain can be a nightmare to deal with during your travels and an over-the-counter pain killer can come in handy to manage the symptoms.
High-Quality Fiber Food: Consider packing high fiber whole foods to relieve the symptoms of hemorrhoids. Fiber will reduce the time feces spend in the colon and increase water retention, resulting in softer, more bulkier tools that may pass more easily. During your travels, the best foods to eat apples, pears, prunes, lentils, corn, and barley.
Note: In the same vein, you should avoid eating processed foods that contain refined carbohydrates can increase your chances of getting hemorrhoids or developing them. During your travel, you may be exposed to processed foods such as fried and salty foods, heavily processed foods, chips and packaged snacks, candies, sports drinks, energy drinks, and even alcohol. Try to avoid these food products to manage your hemorrhoid symptoms.
Stool softener: The stresses of travel and a change in diet can throw off your bowel movements. Make sure to prepare for the worst with a stool softener - just in case you have to visit the toilet at an unexpected time.
You won't always need to see a doctor for hemorrhoids. Home remedies will take a few days (maybe two weeks) to treat the condition. Call your doctor if you've tried all the above tips and your hemorrhoid symptoms persist.
Call your doctor if you face severe symptoms during your travels, such as a lump, or blood in your stool.
This article is provided for general information and does not constitute medical advice, which should be obtained from a physician.