Hemorrhoids in Truckers: Overview. TRUCKERS! Do you know that you are at greater risk of developing hemorrhoids (piles) than almost any other worker? This is because you are sitting in a confined space for hours on end which in turn causes an increase in abdominal pressure, the bottom-line cause of hemorrhoids. Further, those endless hours in your truck commonly cause the major predisposing factor for complications from your hemorrhoids: constipation!
If it were not for your willingness to brave the elements and spend hours and hours on the road in your truck, and often away from home, the rest of us would suffer in more ways than we could count…..whether we realize it or not! If it were not for “the stuff” you bring to us in your truck, we’d do without tools, furniture, toys, presents, automobiles, building materials, medicine, clothes, food and on and on the list goes. Sadly, we often take you for granted.
Office workers usually sit for hours too but they are at liberty to get up and stretch or use the bathroom or take a break at least every couple of hours without it costing them a smaller paycheck. You, on the other hand, have to make a decision to pull your truck off the road (in a safe place of course), climb out of that monster, and commit some of your precious time which translates, for you, to money.
What are hemorrhoids?
Most of us, except for truckers, know very little about trucking and unfortunately most of us, including truckers, know very little about hemorrhoids. What are these pesky “little” things, anyway?
Hemorrhoids are basically varicose veins of the rectum and/or anus. That means the blood vessels are swollen and twisted and irritated. If they are located inside the rectum, they are called “internal” and are not visible without a medical instrument. If they are located around the anus, they are called “external” and are visible as reddened or even purple balls.
What causes truckers to get hemorrhoids?
In the case of truckers, it is the hour-after-hour, day-after-day sitting in one place that causes a build-up of pressure in the lower bowel. The blood vessels respond to the pressure by becoming thick and twisted.
What are the symptoms of hemorrhoids in truckers?
How will you know you have hemorrhoids? Your doctor will tell you for sure but the following symptoms usually signal hemorrhoids:
– Bright red blood on the toilet paper or in the bowel movement
– Itching and burning around the anus
– Pain with bowel movements (if the pain is sudden and severe, you may have developed a complication called a “thrombus” or, even worse, “strangulation” (which is just what it sounds like). If you develop sudden, severe pain, call your doctor at once.
-A feeling that the bowel is not empty after having a stool
– Tenderness around the anus
– Swelling around the anus
– A lump around the anus which may appear as a purple ball
– A feeling that you are sitting on something
What Causes Flare-Ups of Hemorrhoids in Truckers?
The single greatest contributing factor in the aggravation of hemorrhoids is constipation. Truckers are prone to hemorrhoids because of increased abdominal pressure caused by excessive sitting. “Road Warriors” are also prone to constipation because of:
Irregular bowel habits (can’t stop just anywhere)
Inadequate fluid intake (causes excessive urination)
Low fiber intake (tasty, but often greasy, food)
How Can Truckers Deal With Hemorrhoids On and Off the Road?
There are many steps you can take to ease your symptoms while you’re in your truck and when you’re not. Truckers as a group are a hearty lot and not given to complaining. However, hemorrhoids need to be dealt with because they will only get worse. It’s possible to avoid surgery in the future if the hemorrhoids are taken care of now.
Admittedly, some of the things you need to do will not be easy for you because they will require you to change a few of the ways you “do business”. However, I’m trusting that you understand that if you don’t pay the price now, you’ll pay a steeper one later. Besides, we’re going to make it as easy as possible.
Let’s talk about bowel habits first.
Avoid constipation at all costs! Do this by increasing your intake of fiber. That means fruits and vegetables, boys and girls! Also eat beans and whole wheat breads, cereals, and pasta. Read the labels and go for the fiber! (Start slowly though because adding it too fast can cause gas.)
Establish a regular pattern of emptying your bowels. For example, 20-30 minutes after meals give your bowels a chance to do their work. It’s hard and costly to pull your truck off the road so you need to teach your bowels some good habits.
When you feel the need to have a bowel movement, do it as soon as possible. Otherwise, the stool sits in the colon where it loses water so it becomes hard and dry. This is inconvenient at first but once you’ve followed the previous suggestion and established a pattern, it will bet better.
Do not strain or push when you are moving your bowels. If you keep the stool soft, you won’t have to.
For the same reason, don’t rush by forcing the stool out. On the other hand, do not dawdle on the toilet. Do your business and get up. Use stool softeners if you need to, but not laxatives!
Some nutritional pointers:
As we’ve already said, increase your fiber intake (fruits, veggies, beans, whole wheat, bran)
Carry a bag of fresh fruit/vegetable chunks and whole grain crackers in the truck with you. Munch on these as you motor along!
Increase your consumption of water. Don’t load up on other types of fluids though: coffee has caffeine; sodas have sugar (or chemicals if they are diet); juices are too concentrated; alcohol is drying. Stick to water. You’ll learn to love it. (And, your bladder will also get used to the additional fluid so you won’t always have to urinate every hour!)
Keep a food diary listing foods and symptoms to get a handle on which foods bother you. That way you can avoid foods that clearly irritate your hemorrhoids.
Avoid heavy lifting. If you must do it, do not hold your breath. Way too much pressure build-up!
Wear cotton underwear so as to stay nice and dry.
Change your position as often as possible. Shift your butt frequently. Get out and stretch whenever you can. Rather than sit for your whole lunch break (you’ve done enough sitting), stand up and stretch, bend, take a short walk…anything to get your circulation moving.
Keep your anal area scrupulously clean. Do not use perfumed soaps or wipes. Pat the area gently dry; do not rub!
If you’re having a flare-up:
- Apply ice frequently. You have room in your truck for an insulated container. Pack a few commercial ice packs and re-freeze them at night.
- Apply moist warmth at least during the evenings when your day is over.
- Take a sitz bath (that just means soak your rear end in warm water).
- Sleep on your side to relieve pressure.
- Put pads next to your anal skin that have been soaked in witch hazel.
- Use over-the-counter (OTC) creams, suppositories, and ointments.
- Use pain relievers such as tylenol or motrin if needed.
Don’t despair! You can regain your life. The steps listed above take a bit of effort in the beginning but it will get easier. I promise, and I also promise that your effort will be rewarded! Happy truckin’!