Caffeine and Hemorrhoids – Does Caffeine Make Hemorrhoids Worse?
Posted on 02 November 2018 by Maryanne Johnson
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Hemorrhoids are apart of our anorectal anatomy, and their purpose is thought to contribute to our anal continence. We have hemorrhoids all of the time, and most of us have three columns of hemorrhoidal tissue.
Scientists have thought that the hemorrhoidal tissue might also protect the sphincter during a bowel movement, and help the anus close when it is at rest.
When people talk about having hemorrhoids, they are referring to the painful symptoms that occur when the hemorrhoidal tissue becomes inflamed. The inflammation can target your hemorrhoids internally or externally.
The bad news with hemorrhoids is that you can get these symptoms and flare-ups time and time again. You might be asking yourself if your hemorrhoids are reoccurring because of something in your diet.
Caffeine consumption and common anorectal disorders have a long, tangled history with one another. Hemorrhoid sufferers, doctors, and scientists have all pursued to answer the question if caffeine contributes to this anorectal disorder.
Does Caffeine Cause Hemorrhoids?
If you are like the majority of the U.S. population, you drink at least one or more cups of coffee a day. So many Americans are coffee lovers, caffeine junkies, or tea-savvy aficionados, making caffeine one of the most studied and examine food ingredients to date.
As to whether caffeine causes hemorrhoids, there's, unfortunately, no direct answer. Caffeine creates a unique response in every individual. Some caffeine consumers can handle their caffeinated beverages just like an alcohol-drinking adult can handle their liquor.
Others, however, experience poor reactions to caffeine like diarrhea or constipation. If this sounds like your experience with caffeine, then it could certainly be causing your hemorrhoids to flare-up and produce symptoms of itching, burning, or rectal bleeding.
Caffeine can upset your stomach, and this could leave you with the urge to run to the bathroom. Sometimes, this can happen if you drink more caffeine than your body is accustomed to, and other times it could be just the gut flora reacting negatively, resulting in a bout of diarrhea or constipation.
Because of this adverse reaction, your hemorrhoids—the anal cushions stocked with vital arteries, blood vessels, and veins—can respond by becoming inflamed, irritated, and swollen.
Hemorrhoids do not like chronic constipation or diarrhea, and if drinking caffeine is causing these bathroom issues, then they will angrily tell you so by giving you symptoms of:
- Anal itch
- Stool or mucous discharge
- Sensitive masses around the anus
- Rectal bleeding
- Pain and discomfort
- Difficulty going to the bathroom
- Feeling uncomfortable while sitting or standing
In short, however, you can say that caffeine does not solely cause hemorrhoids, but there could be a correlation as a contributing factor. Science tells us that a diet that is high in both caffeine and artificial sugars can interfere with our stool consistency.
The condition of your stools plays an essential role in keeping your hemorrhoid inflammation at bay.
Your hemorrhoids won’t notice stools that are soft and contain a good amount of fluids or moisture, which means less frustrating symptoms for you. But hardened stools that are agonizing to pass or frequent episodes of diarrhea will infuriate your hemorrhoidal tissue, aggravating and inflaming this sensitive anal cushioning.
If you notice that you need to use the bathroom after drinking your morning cup of coffee, you might want to think twice before you brew.
Or perhaps it is the opposite effect, and you aren't going to the bathroom enough. Constipation can be a problematic issue to tie directly to your caffeine consumption, but if you don't feel regular, it could be a reason why.
Does Caffeine Cause Hemorrhoids to Bleed?
Bleeding hemorrhoids are upsetting, but right off the bat if you notice any rectal bleeding, then you should contact your doctor. Rectal bleeding is commonly a symptom of hemorrhoids, a benign source, but it is always a good idea to check with your doctor.
The reasoning is not to alarm you if you see bright red blood after a bowel movement when you go to wipe or notice it coating your stools, but to ensure the rectal bleeding is not from a more serious condition.
Caffeine is likely not the reason why your hemorrhoids are bleeding—at least directly. If your cup of Joe is causing an upset to your bathroom habits, then this could be why your hemorrhoids are bleeding.
Internal hemorrhoids only show themselves by producing rectal bleeding, usually after a bowel movement. Yes, internal hemorrhoids can become prolapsed, but otherwise, in mild cases, the only symptom is rectal bleeding.
External hemorrhoids, the kind you can see and feel, can bleed as well. Bleeding from an external hemorrhoid can mean that one or more of the masses that have formed around your anus has become thrombosed.
A thrombosed hemorrhoid indicates that a blood clot is trapped in the lump of an external hemorrhoid. At first, the thrombosed hemorrhoid will look blue or purple and can send sharp stings of pain if it is touched.
Thrombosed hemorrhoids can burst on their own, resulting in the expulsion of blood, mucus, or pus. If your thrombosed hemorrhoid ruptures and bleeds, it is crucial that you address the wound right away to lower your risk of getting an infection.
If you aren’t sure if your caffeine consumption is worsening your hemorrhoids by making your bowel habits difficult, then you should try a week of no caffeine to see if your hemorrhoid symptoms subside with the change.
Can Caffeine Worsen Hemorrhoids?
Caffeine, if it doesn’t sit well with you, can impact your hemorrhoids. You can drink too much caffeine and feel sick, and if you already have hemorrhoid symptoms, a fit of diarrhea or constipation can indeed worsen them.
There are no specific guidelines for caffeine ingestion in the United States, just a letter released by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2012 stating that for healthy adults, caffeine intake up to 400 mg/day does not produce negative effects on health.
Your toilet habits are directly linked to the development of your hemorrhoid symptoms:
- Spend too much time on the toilet
- Are constipated or have diarrhea
- Don’t go when you feel the urge
- Excessively wipe or use dry toilet paper often
Any of these bathroom habits increase your risk of hemorrhoid inflammation. If you feel like drinking and consuming caffeine is responsible for some of your poor toilet habits, then it could also be worsening your hemorrhoids.
However, the effects of caffeine can vary from person-to-person, as well as the amount of caffeine consumed.
If you are a one cup per day coffee drinker for your entire life and suddenly find yourself experiencing hemorrhoids, then your caffeine intake is unlikely the reason behind your hemorrhoid inflammation. You can probably safely continue your morning cup of coffee without aggravating your hemorrhoids even more.
Drinking more caffeine than usual and noticing that you feel sick afterward or experience hemorrhoid symptoms can mean that the caffeine could be causing more trouble for your hemorrhoids than need be.
If there is one thing to remember about caffeine and hemorrhoids, it is that by keeping a watchful eye on your body’s reaction after ingesting it can help you determine if the caffeine is making your hemorrhoids worse.
Will Hemorrhoids Go Away Without Caffeine?
The case may be that you are unsure if your caffeine consumption is worsening your hemorrhoids, prolonging or aggravating their symptoms. If that sounds like your situation, going caffeine-free for a week can help determine if it is a driving cause behind your hemorrhoids.
Your hemorrhoids will thankfully go away in a few days, regardless of caffeine or not. The inflammation of the rectal veins will subside, and each day your symptoms will lessen in severity.
But if you find that isn’t what is happening, this warrants a call to your doctor. You might need to modify your diet or lifestyle in a way that doesn’t involve caffeine.
Your doctor may recommend these conservative approaches:
- Drinking more water
- Eating more fiber
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Practicing good bathroom habits
Caffeine may not be the problem causing your hemorrhoids. For many people, it is a simple fact of not getting enough fiber.