Hemorrhoids — swollen veins around the anus and in the rectum — are more prevalent among people with SCI than the general population. It is believed that this higher incidence is due to several factors, such as chronic constipation (which intensifies pressure and may weaken the veins in the rectal area), prolonged sitting, straining, irritation through repeated digital stimulation and/or use of suppositories or enemas.
A major sign of hemorrhoids in individuals with SCI is bleeding during your bowel management program.
People with SCI obviously cannot avoid risk factors such as prolonged sitting, and in some cases digital stimulation and use of suppositories. However, there are many foods that can help strengthen your veins and help prevent the development and/or recurrence of hemorrhoids:
A high-fiber diet is extremely important in the prevention of hemorrhoids. There is a strong correlation between constipation and hemorrhoid development. Preventing constipation is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of developing hemorrhoids. A diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, fruits and legumes promotes movement of stool through the bowel. Fiber also absorbs water to help keep feces soft, bulky and easier to pass. The recommended daily intake of fiber for people with SCI is 19 to 30 grams. A chart of popular foods and their fiber content follows.
Flavonoids are found in foods such as blackberries, blueberries, cherries and citrus fruits, and they help to strengthen vein structures.
Vitamin C is found in foods such as citrus fruits, broccoli, spinach and kale, and helps increase the strength of blood vessels to help prevent hemorrhoids from rupturing.
This smoothie is loaded with fiber, vitamin C and flavonoids. Drink it for breakfast or as a snack!
Joanne Smith and Kylie James are co-authors of the book Eat Well Live Well with SCI and Other Neurological Conditions. For more information on nutrition for neurological injuries, go to www.eatwelllivewellwithsci.com.