Travel Hacks for Hemorrhoids
Managing hemorrhoids and preventing flare-ups takes daily care that is more easily accomplished at home. Traveling changes diet and exercise routines. It can be difficult to carry hemorrhoid treatments with you and apply them on the go. And concerns about how to manage hemorrhoids can lead to anxiety. If hemorrhoids are keeping you housebound, consider the following travel hacks.
If you are wondering what hemorrhoids (also known as piles) are, and whether or not you have them, Jo Alexis-Hagues has written a wonderfully descriptive article that can be found here. If you are unsure of your diagnosis, please seek the advice of a medical professional to be sure you are not dealing with a more serious illness, such as cancer.
Diet plays a big role in managing hemorrhoids. Becoming familiar with how your diet affects your bowel habits can help you prevent problems when you are traveling. It may be helpful to keep a food journal for awhile, or simply keep track of what you ate before experiencing constipation or diarrhea. See if any patterns emerge and avoid repeating them. Knowing your body and maintaining balance will help you stay in control of flare-ups.
One important factor to maintaining control is having the right amount of bulk in your diet. Generally, you want to keep things moving along through your system. Aim to be passing a stool 2-3 times per day. To avoid constipation and stools that are too large and hard:
- Limit breads, grains, and pasta.
- Eat dried fruit such as prunes and apricots.
- Eat pineapple and/or papaya pills, which contain enzymes that help break down food in your gut.
- Avoid dehydrating beverages such as alcohol, coffee and black tea. If you like coffee and tea, consider drinking roasted dandelion root tea or try dandelion chai instead.
- Drink plenty of water, juice and/or herbal tea.
- Eat more salad or lightly steamed vegetables, and fruit.
However, a stool that is too small and soft requires more straining to eliminate, which can make hemorrhoids worse. A proper amount of bulk is necessary to keep the optimal stool consistency. Perhaps having a bagel for breakfast, but avoiding grains the rest of the day is the best option. Experiment with your diet to find the right balance for you.
Supplements and Medications
Also consider how supplements and medications may be affecting you. I had been taking vitamin E capsules daily for nearly a year when I noticed that my hemorrhoids and varicose veins were getting much worse. I had heaviness in my legs and had to elevate them quite often. It turns out that vitamin E relaxes the veins and should not be taken for such a long duration. Once I stopped taking it, my hemorrhoids and varicose veins returned to normal. But I have to be watchful now, as vitamin E is frequently added to other supplements.
Dietary Travel Hacks
Traveling can make it much more difficult to maintain balance. Eating out, eating at different times of day and eating different foods can wreck havoc with hemorrhoids. Here are some travel hacks to help maintain balance:
- Look for pineapple. Pineapple breaks down other foods in your gut and helps maintain regularity. Look for it on salad bars in restaurants, order it on your pizza, or purchase small cans of pineapple juice to take with you.
- Take papaya pills. These little pills are chewable and easy to carry with you. Take them after meals, as they contain enzymes that help break down your food.
- Buy prunes in individually wrapped packages. Throw some in your purse or coat pocket and eat them as snacks throughout the day.
- Try to limit breads, pasta, dehydrating beverages and anything else you have found to be constipating. Note that certain cheeses are more constipating than others. Eat more salad and fruit.
- Increase water. It can be hard to get enough water when you are traveling. You are also more likely to get dehydrated. Buy bottled water that you can carry with you. Too much plain water can flush out beneficial electrolytes. To add flavor and nutrients to your water, consider adding lemon or stuff a tea bag in the bottle. Try to buy tea bags that do not have a string or tag, or cut them off before putting them in the bottle. Chamomile, lemon balm or hibiscus tea bags make flavorful water.
- If you have trouble with loose stools, dried banana chips, crackers, and cheese sticks are easy to take with you. Look for jello or tapioca pudding on salad bars. Cut back on fluid intake.
Exercise is important because it helps keep food moving through the gut, promoting regularity. It also gets the blood flowing and strengthens muscles. Sitting and slouching put a lot of pressure on hemorrhoids. Building core muscles will help hold up your internal organs so that they are not putting so much pressure on your pelvis. Doing Kegel exercises may help also.
Exercise Travel Hacks
Travel usually involves a lot of sitting. Look for any opportunity to move around.
- If you have a lay over, walk around the airport instead of sitting and waiting for your next flight.
- Squeeze a few short hikes into your travel itinerary.
- Take a walk around the hotel (inside or out) before you go to bed and/or first thing in the morning.
- Stretch, do yoga, and/or dance whenever you can, even if it means a quick pose or two in the bathroom.
- Get creative with your movement (both how and where you do it) and don’t worry about what other people think. Maybe they will decide to join you!
How to Treat Hemorrhoids on the Go
If you do have a flare-up, treating hemorrhoids when you are out and about can be difficult, to say the least. Traditional hemorrhoid treatments can be messy and inconvenient to carry with you. For this reason, I make my own hemorrhoid travel salve. I keep the salve in small containers that are easy to slip in a purse, carry on luggage, or coat pocket. That way I can take it with me everywhere, so that I am prepared should a flare-up occur.
Hemorrhoids and Anxiety
Having hemorrhoids can cause significant anxiety about having a bowel movement. Will it be painful? Will I bleed or hemorrhage? Will this visit to the bathroom cause a flare-up? How will I discretely use a public (or shared) restroom? Will there be a restroom available when I need one? Will I need to use the bathroom on the plane? Unfortunately, these psychological concerns can inadvertently cause one to avoid using the bathroom when they should. Delaying the inevitable only causes more problems.
Managing hemorrhoids through a balanced diet, routine exercise, and having a travel plan, helps put you back in control of your condition. Feeling prepared and in control reduces anxiety. Finally, celebrate every poo you do. Take a deep breath, breathe a sign of relief, and congratulate yourself. Dealing with hemorrhoids is not easy. So celebrate every small success, get out there and enjoy life. Happy trails!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
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© 2019 Amanda Buck