Who doesn’t love a nice “cuppa joe” bright and early? For 64% of Americans, drinking coffee is embedded into their daily routine. After all, a steaming hot mug of your favorite brew sounds incredibly enticing on a freezing winter morning or ahead of a busy work day. The same is true of a chilled quart of cold coffee when the dog days of summer set in.
However, is this popular everyday beverage contributing to the deteriorating health of a significant portion of our population? Is coffee bad for people dealing with hemorrhoids? How exactly does caffeine affect hemorrhoids, if at all?
This piece will explain everything in detail. By the end of it, you’ll have a clear idea about whether or not you need to cut down on your daily caffeine intake.
Impact of Caffeine on Hemorrhoids
Simply put, drinking coffee won’t lead to the formation of hemorrhoids. However, caffeine can cause dehydration if you consume multiple cups in a day but not enough water. Dehydration can result in constipation, and the likelihood of hemorrhoids increases in constipated individuals.
Moreover, if you’ve already contracted hemorrhoids and now face constipation problems due to excessive coffee drinking, it will be a two-way problem. Prolonged straining and sitting will worsen hemorrhoid pain and irritation, while the continuous discomfort due to hemorrhoids will aggravate your constipation issues. In short, you might get stuck in a vicious cycle.
For some individuals, coffee may also serve as a digestive stimulant, resulting in more time spent in the toilet. Many people have also reported diarrhea after drinking huge amounts of coffee over time. This can irritate and upset your hemorrhoids as well.
All in all, coffee doesn’t cause hemorrhoids on its own. However, it can initiate symptoms that might delay their healing process.
Should You Cut Down on Caffeine Consumption?
Caffeine isn’t likely to cause a hemorrhoid flare-up in every person. However, doctors advise patients to limit caffeine-heavy foods and meds (such as cold medicines and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs) when dealing with worsening hemorrhoids.
Of course, coffee isn’t the only daily-use item with lots of caffeine in it. There’s plenty of it in tea, hot cocoa, energy drinks, chocolates, candies, cookies, puddings, cereals, ice creams, etc. Caffeine is also used to boost the effectiveness of pain relievers, especially PMS and migraine medication.
The effects are different for everyone. For instance, if you experience the urge to have a bowel movement soon after a cup of coffee, caffeine might have played a role in it. The same goes for people who feel constipated or report diarrhea after drinking coffee. In such situations, limiting caffeine consumption might be recommended.
On the other hand, caffeine-dependent individuals usually find that a sudden drop in their daily consumption levels can lead to dizziness, fatigue, nausea, headache, and brain fog. So, abruptly ceasing all caffeine intake might do more harm than good for such people.
It’s probably better to gradually cut back on your coffee intake instead of quitting cold turkey. A good rule of thumb is to bring down consumption by 10% after every few weeks and see how your mind and body react to it.
Following are some other tips you can adopt to cut back on coffee and other caffeinated drinks.
Drink Plenty of Water
Water is an important yet surprisingly underrated drink. Aside from providing the body with various essential salts and nutrients, it stimulates bowel movements and keeps them healthy.
If your water consumption is adequate, your bowel movements won’t require excessive straining. The result will be faster healing of your hemorrhoids. Furthermore, water can satisfy the urge for a hot/cold beverage or sugary drink sometimes. This will automatically lessen your caffeine intake.
Go for Decaf Coffee
As already mentioned, caffeine-dependent individuals find it difficult to cut down on coffee. For them, merely starting the day without their much-needed cup of coffee can be daunting. Therefore, instead of quitting altogether, they might be better off switching to decaffeinated (decaf) coffee.
Even though decaf isn’t completely devoid of caffeine, the quantity is significantly smaller. Compared to an 8-ounce cup of regular coffee that has between 95 mg and 200 mg of caffeine, a decaf cup of the same size only contains about 2 mg to 15 mg of the substance.
In addition, you should consider green tea. A much healthier alternative to regular coffee, it only contains around 25 mg to 50 mg of caffeine per cup.
Caffeine-dependent people need their endorphin rush every day. It’s what keeps them focused and alert. Alternatively, you can go for regular exercise to stimulate your brain cells. An active brain releases feel-good chemicals like endorphins, keeping you more agile during the day.
Regular trips to the gym (or even a slightly intense home workout) will also help you maintain healthy bowel movements by speeding up digestion. In turn, this will keep your hemorrhoids in check. The idea with exercise is to simply trick your brain into believing it’s getting the required daily caffeine rush without you consuming the substance in any form!
Americans love coffee for multiple reasons. Not only is it delicious and comforting, but it can also give many individuals the “liquid courage and energy” they need to get through their day. So, if the very thought of giving up the drink makes you feel sad, you’re not alone.
That being said, consider your situation and condition carefully. The effects of caffeine on your body will be different from others. If excessive caffeine makes you constipated or gives you diarrhea, you probably need to start cutting down on multiple coffee cups a day. This is especially recommended for people dealing with chronic external hemorrhoids.
On the other hand, if hemorrhoids are a one-time thing for you, cutting down on caffeine consumption might not be necessary.