by Dr. Christopher Singh

Although not often discussed, hemorrhoids are a very common condition. In fact, it is estimated that half the adults in North America over the age of 50 have suffered from hemorrhoids at some point in their lives.

Simply put, hemorrhoids are swollen and inflamed veins in the anus or lower rectum.

One of the major causes of hemorrhoids is sitting for long periods of time. As a result, truck drivers are more prone to developing them due to the long hours spent sitting behind the wheel.

The signs and symptoms associated with hemorrhoids depend on the location. Internal hemorrhoids are located inside the rectum and usually cause very little discomfort.

On the other hand, external hemorrhoids are situated under the skin around the anus.

Due to their location, they are easily irritated. The most common symptoms of hemorrhoids include painless bleeding during bowel movements, itching or irritation in your anal region and/or a lump near your anus, which may be painful.

It is important that you seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms as they may be due to an underlying more serious health condition.

The causes of hemorrhoids differ from person to person. However, the most common are straining during bowel movements and sitting for long periods of time, especially on a toilet.

Both of these factors may cause the veins around the anus to stretch, bulge or swell.

Other less common causes include pregnancy, obesity and chronic diarrhea or constipation. Recent studies have also shown that there may be a hereditary component to hemorrhoids.

In most cases, complications from hemorrhoids are rare.

However, if excessive bleeding occurs, it can lead to anemia. Infection is also a concern.

The diagnosis of hemorrhoids is reached though a detailed history and physical examination by a physician.

Your physician may recommend diagnostic tests to rule out other illnesses.

The good news is that the treatment for hemorrhoids is usually simple.

Factors such as lifestyle modification and over-the-counter medications are often enough.

Physicians commonly prescribe topical creams and ointments such as hydrocortisone to help reduce the irritation and swelling.

In addition, maintaining good personal hygiene and soaking regularly in a warm bath will also
reduce the symptoms.

The use of pain-relieving medication such as Tylenol and Advil may be necessary to help relieve the pain and discomfort. In rare cases, surgical intervention may be required.

As I always say, prevention is the best cure. The best way to prevent hemorrhoids is to keep your stools soft to ensure easy passage.

Eating a high fiber diet will soften the stool and increase its bulk. Good sources of fiber include whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Also, drinking plenty of water while avoiding alcohol and caffeine also aids to soften the stool. It is also important to void your bowels as soon as you feel the urge.

Ignoring the urge may lead to the stool becoming dry and harder to pass. Finally, avoid sitting for long periods of time as it increases the pressure on the veins in the anus.

As you can see, the last two prevention tips relate directly to truck drivers and their job demands. It is important for them to stop the truck as needed and avoid sitting behind the wheel for many consecutive hours. Taking advantage of rest stops or truck stops will go a long way in preventing hemorrhoids. Until next month, drive safely.

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.


  • My husband, who has been driving for 28 years never has had hard stools or been constipated, he drinks 5 bottles of water a day but still bleeds, is this normal?