Some people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may develop hemorrhoids due to bowel movement changes, straining to pass stools, or a lack of fiber in the diet.
People can often treat hemorrhoids at home, but it may sometimes be necessary for a doctor to perform a medical procedure.
In this article, we discuss IBS and how it links to hemorrhoids. We also explain the treatment options that doctors might offer and provide tips for preventing hemorrhoids and managing the symptoms at home.
IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder that may have a combination of causes. Doctors do not completely understand why some people develop IBS, but they think that certain factors play a role, including:
- genetic factors
- food intolerances and sensitivities
- bacterial infections or overgrowth in the gut
- stress, anxiety, or depression
People with IBS may have the following symptoms:
- altered bowel movements
- bloating and gas
- the feeling of not finishing a bowel movement
- whitish mucus in the stool
Doctors usually diagnose IBS as one of three types:
- IBS with constipation (IBS-C)
- IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D)
- IBS with mixed bowel habits (IBS-M)
However, a doctor may diagnose IBS even if someone’s bowel pattern does not meet the criteria of one particular type.
Hemorrhoids may develop as a result of the symptoms of IBS. Hemorrhoids, also called piles, are swollen and inflamed veins that appear either outside the anus or inside the anus and lower rectum.
According to a 2018 review, doctors think that constipation and the resulting chronic straining cause hemorrhoids, but there is evidence that diarrhea may also contribute.
The review authors note the lack of recent research about hemorrhoids but state that other suspected risk factors for hemorrhoids include:
- sitting on the toilet for long periods
- incorrect posture during defecation
- having a higher body mass index (BMI)
In addition to hemorrhoids, IBS can cause related complications. For example, constipation in IBS may also lead to an anal tear or fissure, and chronic diarrhea may lead to dehydration and nutritional deficiencies.
Additionally, IBS may affect someone’s quality of life and cause mental health symptoms, such as those of depression or anxiety.
Doctors treat hemorrhoids in several ways, depending on the individual and the severity of the hemorrhoids.
They might prescribe topical creams for people to apply to hemorrhoids. These can include hydrocortisone, a corticosteroid.
In some cases, they may carry out medical procedures at an office, outpatient center, or hospital. The options include:
- Rubber band ligation: In this procedure, a doctor places a surgical rubber band around the base of a hemorrhoid to cut off its blood supply.
- Sclerotherapy: A doctor will inject a solution into the hemorrhoid, causing it to shrink.
- Infrared photocoagulation: Using a specialist tool, a doctor directs infrared light at an internal hemorrhoid, causing scar tissue to form and shrinking to occur.
- Electrocoagulation: This procedure involves a doctor using an electric current to shrink an internal hemorrhoid.
- Hemorrhoidectomy: After giving the individual an anesthetic, a surgeon performs this procedure to remove large external and prolapsing internal hemorrhoids.
- Hemorrhoid stapling: A doctor or surgeon uses a stapling tool to remove internal hemorrhoid tissue and pull a prolapsing internal hemorrhoid back into the anus. This procedure also takes place under anesthesia.
A doctor will discuss the most suitable treatment with an individual depending on their circumstances.
Hemorrhoids may cause other problems in rare cases, such as anemia due to bleeding or a prolapsed hemorrhoid cutting off blood flow. A doctor will treat these complications accordingly.
People with IBS can take several steps to help prevent hemorrhoids from developing. These include:
- eating plenty of fiber to keep bowel movements regular
- drinking plenty of water
- avoiding straining and sitting for long periods during bowel movements
- exercising regularly
Foods that are high in fiber include oats, beans, lentils, and vegetables. Anyone who is sensitive to these foods should speak with a dietitian.
In some cases, a person will be able to treat their hemorrhoid symptoms at home with over-the-counter (OTC) medications and remedies, including:
- stool softeners or fiber supplements
- pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil)
- creams or ointments
- a sitz bath
People can ask doctors or pharmacists to advise them if they are unsure. Additionally, someone may find relief from hemorrhoid pain by sitting in a warm water bath several times a day.
Anyone with hemorrhoids that are worsening or affecting their quality of life should also speak with a doctor. A doctor can offer advice on appropriate alternative treatments. If the individual is living with IBS, the doctor can also discuss with them the best way to manage this condition.
Hemorrhoids can develop due to certain IBS symptoms, such as constipation or diarrhea.
People can minimize their risk of hemorrhoids by including fiber in their diet and avoiding straining and sitting on the toilet for too long.
It is often possible to treat hemorrhoids at home with OTC medications and creams, but some individuals with more severe symptoms may need a doctor or surgeon to treat them.