What causes hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids happen when pressure causes veins in your rectum and anus to stretch, swell, and bulge. Internal hemorrhoids occur inside the rectum, and external hemorrhoids occur in the skin outside your anus.
Some activities and conditions can lead to extra pressure in your rectum and cause hemorrhoids, including:
- Straining during bowel movements
- Anal sex
- Heavy lifting
Hemorrhoids can be uncomfortable and make bowel movements painful, especially if you get blood clots outside around your anus. Other common hemorrhoids symptoms include:
How to make hemorrhoids and sleeping more comfortable
It can be hard to get comfortable when you have hemorrhoids, and sleep can be affected. You can manage hemorrhoids at home with some personal care and lifestyle changes in most cases. There are some simple ways to relieve your symptoms.
Push hemorrhoids back in
Sometimes hemorrhoids will stick out of your anus, especially after a bowel movement. If you pass stool before bed, gently push the hemorrhoid back in. With the vein back inside your rectum, the skin is protected, which can help lower your risk of getting a blood clot or a hemorrhoid trapped outside your rectum.
Take a sitz bath before bed
During a sitz bath, you sit in warm, shallow water. Hemorrhoids tend to have crevasses where stool can get stuck and cause skin irritation and itching. A sitz bath can help gently clean the area without having to rub or irritate your skin. The warm water also relaxes your muscles, promotes blood flow, and can ease pain.
Before bed, take a warm sitz bath, then gently pat the area dry with a towel. Don’t rub or wipe.
Once you get out of the bath, apply a soothing hemorrhoid cream. You can buy over-the-counter creams and suppositories at your pharmacy. Creams with aloe vera can soothe the skin. A numbing hemorrhoid cream can help with pain.
You can also use soothing hemorrhoid cleansing pads throughout the day when you use the restroom. Witch hazel cleansing pads can help ease skin discomfort and reduce irritation. Creams and cleansing pads can also help with itching. Try not to scratch the area as it can cause more damage and irritation to your skin.
Clean underwear and loose pajamas
After you’ve treated your hemorrhoids, put on a clean pair of underwear and loose pajamas. You may want to use a liner in your underwear to stay dry and absorb any extra cream you apply. Loose pajamas keep pressure off your abdomen and anus and keep you comfortable.
If you have a lot of pain or your hemorrhoid cream doesn’t numb the area enough, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever to help. A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, called an NSAID, can help lower inflammation and ease pain. Very painful hemorrhoids are a sign you should talk to your doctor, though.
Sitting or standing for a long time can make your hemorrhoids worse because they put extra pressure on your blood vessels. In general, laying down can help your symptoms, but you might find it’s hard to get comfortable. You can try sleeping on your stomach, which can also take pressure off your anus and give you some relief.
Pillow between your legs
Lying on your back might put extra pressure on your anus and cause additional pain for hemorrhoids and sleeping. To prevent this, you can lay on your side with a pillow between your legs.
Other treatments for hemorrhoids
Lifestyle changes can help you manage hemorrhoids and stop them from coming back.
Eat a healthy diet
Constipation is a common cause of hemorrhoids. Adjusting your diet can soften stools and make your bowel movements easier. Include 20 to 35 grams of fiber in your diet every day and drink plenty of water. Both fiber and water help keep your stools soft and make them easier to pass. You can eat:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Whole grain pasta, bread, and rice
- A few meals of beans and lentils a week instead of meat
- Nuts and seeds
Get regular exercise
Regular exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, taking off some of the pressure on your rectum. It also encourages waste to move through your colon and helps avoid constipation.
When to see your doctor
Hemorrhoids usually go away after a week or two. If they don’t get better, or you’re in a lot of pain and are having trouble with hemorrhoids and sleeping, talk to your doctor about other treatments.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Academy of Family Physicians FamilyDoctor.org: "Hemorrhoids."
GI Society: Canadian Society of Intestinal Research: "Hemorrhoids."
JOHNS HOPKINS MEDICINE: "Hemorrhoids."
Mayo Clinic: "Hemorrhoids."
Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center: "What to Wear, How to Sleep, and Other Practical Tips for Hemorrhoid Sufferers."
University of Texas at Austin University Health Services: "Hemorrhoids.”
Top How Should You Sleep With Hemorrhoids Related Articles
Do I Have Hemorrhoids or Rectal Prolapse?Learn more about the major differences between hemorrhoids and rectal prolapse and the kinds of treatment available.
Hemorrhoids (piles) are swollen veins in the rectum and anus. Causes include pregnancy, obesity, diarrhea, low-fiber diet, and prolonged sitting on the toilet. Treatment varies depending upon the severity of the hemorrhoids. Some treatment options include over-the-counter creams and suppositories, stool softeners, warm sitz baths, and hemorrhoidectomies.
How to Get Rid of Hemorrhoids: Types, Causes, and TreatmentsLearn how to get rid of hemorrhoids, the difference between internal hemorrhoids and external hemorrhoids, what causes hemorrhoids, how long hemorrhoids last, and hemorrhoids treatment.
Hemorrhoids QuizDoes everyone have hemorrhoids? Test your knowledge of this and many other facts about Hemorrhoids.
Home Remedies for HemorrhoidsHemorrhoids are enlarged, swollen veins in the lowest part of the rectum and anus. These veins bulge and get irritated, especially when the patient defecates, and cause bleeding. Hemorrhoids are also commonly called piles. It is one of the most common causes of rectal bleeding.
How Long Do Thrombosed External Hemorrhoids Last?Many thrombosed external hemorrhoids may go away within a few weeks. An external thrombosed hemorrhoid develops under the skin surrounding the anus and causes discomfort due to the presence of a blood clot in the vein. The pain of thrombosed hemorrhoids may improve within 7-10 days without surgery and may disappear within two to three weeks.
How Long Does it Take Hemorrhoids to Heal?If you've ever had hemorrhoids, you know that they can be very painful and irritating. Learn what hemorrhoids are, how doctors treat them, and what you can do to speed up their healing.
Is Tylenol or Ibuprofen Better for Hemorrhoids?Tylenol helps relieve pain from hemorrhoids, whereas ibuprofen may help reduce both pain and swelling in the surrounding area.
What Happens If You Leave a Hemorrhoid Untreated?If you have mild hemorrhoids, leaving them alone can be fine. The swelling and discomfort will usually go away within a few days. Occasionally, though, there may be complications related to hemorrhoids.
What Should You Not Do if You Have Hemorrhoids?Swollen veins located in or around the anal canal are known as hemorrhoids. If you have hemorrhoids avoid foods that are fatty or low in fiber; don't pick at hemorrhoids; avoid lifting heavy objects; avoid stress and anxiety; and avoid overusing laxatives.
When Should You Go to the Doctor for Hemorrhoids?If you're dealing with painful or bleeding hemorrhoids, you're not alone. About one in 20 Americans have hemorrhoids, and that includes half of all adults over age 50.
Should I See a Gastroenterologist or Proctologist for Hemorrhoids?Hemorrhoids, commonly called piles, are swollen, inflamed veins around the anus or the lower part of the rectum (the terminal part of the large bowel). They may be felt as tiny lumps in and around the anus. Hemorrhoids may often get better on their own within a few days, but some may need medications and even surgery to go away.