Hemorrhoids refers to swelling in blood vessels that happens after the veins around the anorectal region dilate. When the blood overflows it leads to swelling of veins, causing piles.
Hemorrhoids are of two types: internal and external. While external hemorrhoids make sitting uncomfortable and difficult, internal ones also create issues. Internal hemorrhoids are classified into four grades. If the person is suffering from third or fourth grade, the bulging or swelling comes out, making sitting an extremely painful experience. However, there is no particular sitting position considered suitable for hemorrhoids, it is the lifestyle changes that helps manage the condition better.
Irregular bowel movement due to constipation causes piles, say experts. Constipation, which is caused when not enough fiber is incorporated into the diet, leads to the person exerting more pressure while passing the stool. This causes inflammation or bulging of the veins.
How does sitting position affect hemorrhoids?
Sitting for prolonged periods increases the pressure on the veins in the anorectal region, leading to an increased flow of blood. It could lead to dilatation of the veins, which in turn causes swelling.
“If a person is suffering from hemorrhoids and he or she is sitting for long periods at a stretch, the gluteal and other muscles around the area of the hemorrhoids are stretched, forcing the swollen veins to dilate more. This leads to pain and discomfort,” says Dr Rahul Jadhav, consultant laparoscopic and general surgeon at Shallby Hospital, Gujarat.
“Because of the swelling, the veins get compressed, whenever they have swelling inside anal canal or an open area, the tissues and muscles contract and relax, which can cause discomfort,” adds Dr Rajeev Prasad, internal medicine physician at Tattvan E Clinics, Hyderabad.
Ways to make sitting with piles comfortable
Sitting position plays an important role to get relief from the hemorrhoidal discomfort and pain.
“One should avoid sitting for long periods in the same position to start with,” adds Dr Jadhav. “Get up from your chair every 20 to 30 minutes and walk around. People suffering from piles can also try to elevate the legs to the hip level while sitting. It will help them to relieve discomfort and pressure.”
Use a soft surface or soft pillow or cushions while sitting and completely avoid sitting on hard surfaces. The harder the surface, the more the pressure on the gluteal regions.
“If a person is bound to sit for a prolonged period, they can keep a doughnut shaped cushion/ round shape cushion under the seat as it does not exert pressure in the anal area,” adds Dr Prasad. “When you sit on this cushion most of the weight lies on the corners not in the center. It acts like shock absorbers.”
Best sitting position while using toilet
The best toilet position for those suffering from piles or hemorrhoids is the squat position.
“While using a western toilet, use a step stool, keep your knees above your hips to alter the angle of your rectum. And this position gives direct access to pass the stool from your anal canal. Lastly avoid sitting on the toilet for a long period of time,” adds Dr Jadhav.
Types of exercises to avoid
Avoid any exercise which creates pressure on the lower abdomen. Weightlifting, straining and heavy exercise should be avoided by those with piles. One should also avoid brisk walking, jogging, and running. Strolling/sedate walking for short periods won’t cause any issues.
“When you’re lifting weights, the abdomen, anal and mid-section muscles contract too,” adds Dr Prasad. “But when the anal region is swollen, contraction while exercising can cause pain, discomfort, or sometimes you will face excessive bleeding, the next day.”
Lifestyle modifications to manage piles
“Dietary modifications are important to manage piles,” adds Dr Jadhav. “Eat food rich in fiber, including vegetables and cereals. Eat in regular intervals, avoid oily, fatty and spicy food too. Fat and oil bind the stool making them hard. This makes the bowel movement difficult, creating pressure on hemorrhoids.”
Alcohol intake and smoking should be avoided too since they dilate veins, aggravating the hemorrhoids.
Along with these lifestyle modifications, one should follow a proper treatment protocol (based on the grade of hemorrhoids/piles), in consultation with an expert.
- Haemorrhoids are a bunch of venous/swollen blood vessels. Sitting for prolonged time while suffering from piles can cause discomfort to these veins.
- If sitting for long periods can’t be avoided, use a soft cushion to sit on, and take regular breaks.
- Along with the course of treatment, various lifestyle modifications help manage piles.