Treating hemorrhoids at old age is not always easy, that is the reason you need to know how to prevent hemorrhoids in the elderly. However, you don’t have to wait till old age when bodily functions have slowed down before you learn about this condition.
As one ages, bodily functions tend to slow down and the digestive system may not work as efficient as it used to be. The bowels muscles gradually become weaker and most times there may be bowels abnormality. These factors put together make hemorrhoids a common but not an inevitable disease of the elderly.
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How are Hemorrhoids Popular with the Elderly?
Hemorrhoids are common in the elderly. The most common time to get hemorrhoids is between ages 45 and 65. This is because as one ages, there is gradual muscular weakness, the digestive system as well slows down. More so, with aging one tends to sit more therefore, putting more pressure at the lower region of the body, mostly the rectum and the anus area. These make hemorrhoids common among older people.
What are Hemorrhoids in the Elderly?
This is the swelling or bulge cause by pressure around the anus and the rectum of an elderly person. The word “hemorrhoids” was derived from two Greek words “haema” meaning blood, and “rhoos” meaning flowing.
These words were first used by Hippocrates to describe the flow of blood from the veins of the anus. More so, hemorrhoids are also called piles.
Causes of Hemorrhoids in the Elderly
For a better appreciation of how to prevent hemorrhoids in the elderly it is very important that you know the possible causes of hemorrhoids in the elderly.
Hemorrhoids are common complaints in the elderly. About 50 percent of the older population grapple with this debilitating condition. A good number of the elderly are quite vulnerable to hemorrhoids than the younger ones. Many factors are responsible for that, they are; sudden changes in dietary habits. Weakness of the sphincter muscles as we get older, sitting for a very long time, inactivities, constipation, Slow colonic transit, straining while defecating, hard stools, decrease in water intake etc.
Intake of Low Fiber Foods by the Elderly
Most older people ignorantly eat more of refined less fiber foods and this does not in any way help with bowels movement. Low or no fiber food are easy to chew and swallow there is no doubts about that , they easily get digested too but do not facilitate digestions.
Instead this fiberless food, go a long way to stick to the walls of the bowels causing a clogging up of the tubes in the digestive tracks. Consequently, they suffer from fecal retention, Sensation of incomplete evacuation of feces, Sensation of anorectal obstruction or blockade or blockage of defecation. This can cause the older people to strain which may result in hemorrhoids.
Weakness in the Sphincter muscles
These are muscles that control the movement of feces from the rectum through the anus and into the toilet. A weakness in this muscle can cause fecal incontinence.
Medications that can cause hemorrhoids in elderly
Some medications have been successfully linked to secondary constipation which can eventually lead to hemorrhoids in the elderly. These medications include; , Antacids containing aluminum or calcium , Anticholinergics , Antidepressants , Antihistamines, Calcium channel blockers , Clonidine Diuretics, Iron, Levodopa, Narcotics Non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs and Opioids.
This is a drastic decrease in the number of times you defecate and each time you successfully do, it is always very hard and painful.
It is a symptom of a poor feeding habit and lack of exercise. The veins at the anal region of an elderly person becomes weak with age and can become irritated and even bleed with minimal exertion.
The moment an elderly person is constipated the chances of having hemorrhoids are very high. This is because the person will have to push very hard to get the feces out. Therefore, in the process of doing this, there is a pressure in the vein of the anus and the rectum which results in hemorrhoids.
Depression is usually associated with constipation.
Slow colonic transition
This is a slowness in the movement of waste materials along the colon. A slower movement of waste materials through the colon may result in increased water resorption and hard feces. This unusually slow passage of waste through the large intestine leads to chronic problems, such as constipation and uncontrollable soiling.
A fecal impaction is a large, hard mass of stool that gets stuck so badly in you your rectum that you can’t push it out on your own. This is likely to happen in an elderly who are constipated. The process of trying harder to push out the feces from the rectum through the anus can cause hemorrhoids in an elderly person. This problem can be very severe. It can cause other serious illness or even death if it not treated.
Ways to prevent hemorrhoids in the elderly
- Bowel Training Defecation
I advise every elderly to try and empty their bowels in the morning, when intestinal motor activity is strongest, or half an hour after meals, to take advantage of the gastrocolic reflex.
The gastrocolic reflex is a physiological reflex that controls the movement of the lower gastrointestinal tract following a meal. As a result of the gastrocolic reflex, the colon has increased motility in response to the stretch of the stomach with the ingestion of food. The elderly who are incapacitated should be helped to achieve this.
- In take of Food rich in Fiber.
Fiber increases the bulk of the feces and the frequency of bowel movements, it also shortens the time it takes feces to move down the bowels. That is, it makes the stool to move faster. Therefore it is very important that an elderly person increases their intake of fiber rich food.
As you get older I advise that you watch carefully whatever you eat. Please you need a lot of food rich in fiber to keep your stomach, intestine, rectum, anus and the whole of your digestive system healthy.
Take a lot of vegetables, fruits, yams, potatoes, cocoyam, etc. Reduce your intake of breads, pasta, burgers, meat, fish, pork etc .I strongly recommend that.
- Increase in Water Intake
The presence of sufficient water in the colon (intestine) is very critical for bowels movement. Therefore, I advise strongly that every elderly person should take water before and after every meal. This is because, when the body is properly rehydrated the stool is kept soft and easy to pass without straining
- Regular Physical Exercise
Physical activity affects colonic motor function, the change being probably proportional to the intensity of the exercise. Studies confirm that the incidence of constipation is lower among people with heavier physical activity.
Prolonged inactivity, especially in the elderly, may slow colonic transit. I recommend a brisk walk around the neighborhood, cycling and other forms of physical exercises that can keep the bowels moving.
My candid advice to all the elderly
If you have reached the age of 50 and still counting, it is important that you stay away from the following
- Sitting for too long
- Straining while using toilet
- Improper anal hygiene
- Excessive consumption of refined food and spices
- Dehydration. Etc
If you can stay away from all these, I can bet that you will have a healthy bowels and you won’t have any challenge with hemorrhoids. You can scroll back above to read over again, how to prevent hemorrhoids in the elderly.