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Laxatives for Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids develop when the veins around the lower rectum or anus becomes inflamed and swollen, usually as a result of excessive straining and pressure during bowel movement. It occurs due to increased pressure on the blood vessels in the rectal and anal areas. Hemorrhoids are also known as varicose veins of the anus and rectum. People suffering from hemorrhoids experience itching, pain and also bloody stools.

Constipation contributes to the development of hemorrhoids, as the person strains excessively to pass stools. So, to prevent hemorrhoids, it is essential to curb constipation. For this reason, many people believe that laxatives are the best and easiest solution for hemorrhoids. However, the fact is that some laxatives may actually aggravate hemorrhoids. This is because while some laxatives soften the stools, they also strain and contract the bowel muscles.

Hemorrhoid Prevention: Role of Laxatives

Some laxatives like senna and liquorice stimulate the body chemically to pass stools, and this extra strain worsen the hemorrhoids. Other types of fiber-based laxatives, such as figs and prunes, have a soothing effect on hemorrhoids by preventing constipation. Bulk forming laxatives are also beneficial as they make the stool more bulky and make it retain more water. It is best to prevent constipation than use laxatives as a solution for hemorrhoids. Generally, it is the excessive pressure caused by straining, rather than constipation itself, which leads to hemorrhoids.

Here are some ways to prevent constipation and hemorrhoids:

  1. Drink lots of fluids to keep your body hydrated and to prevent hard stools. Drinking eight glasses of water daily is a must.

  2. Increase fiber intake. There are several fruits and vegetables which are rich in fiber and hence prevent constipation.

  3. Exercise regularly, as it increases bowel movements and prevents constipation.

  4. Avoid laxatives that are not fiber-based, as they worsen hemorrhoids by inducing diarrhea. Bulk-forming laxatives are more beneficial.

Types of Laxatives

There are various types of laxatives available in the market to treat constipation. They are classified as follows:

  1. Bulk forming laxatives: They are the most commonly used laxatives to treat constipation. Bulk forming laxatives act by softening and lubricating the stools and facilitating frequent and easier bowel movements. Bulk forming laxatives may act within 12 hours or might at times take about 3 days to work effectively. Bulk forming laxatives are derived from both natural and synthetic sources, and act in the same manner. Natural bulk forming laxatives are derived from psyllium, agar, kelp and plant gum, while synthetic ones are cellulose compounds, such as methylcellulose.

  2. Emollient laxatives: These are also known as stool softeners. They soften the stools by increasing the moisture content of the feces. The active ingredient of most stool softeners is docusate. Emollient laxatives do not increase the frequency or stimulate bowel movements themselves. Moreover, they just prevent constipation and do not treat the cause. They are usually recommended for patients who are advised to avoid straining during bowel movements, such as patients suffering from hemorrhoids.

  3. Stimulant laxatives: These laxatives act by stimulating and increasing contractions of the intestinal muscles. Some examples of this type of laxatives are senna compounds, castor oil, aloe, bisacodyl and cascara. The bacteria present in the colon convert the laxatives into compounds that stimulate contractions in the intestinal muscles, thus facilitating easier bowel movements. However, prolonged usage of stimulant laxatives can cause the nerve endings in the colon to die out, thus aggravating constipation.

  4. Saline laxatives: The active agents of saline laxatives generally include citrate, magnesium, phosphate and sulphate ions. These ions present in the laxatives pull water into the intestines. This leads to softening of the stools, increased pressure in the intestines and increased contractions of the intestines, which facilitate softer bowel movements. Some examples of saline laxatives are magnesium citrate, milk of magnesia and Fleet Phospho-Soda.

The best way to prevent hemorrhoids is to learn about the condition and take preventive measures.