Hemorrhoids are just one of many types of blood vessel blockages. Blood collects in the veins and is not returned to the heart because of vascular weakness or an obstruction. Pregnancy, obesity, inactivity, constipation and a weak vascular system are all common causes of hemorrhoids. Sometimes, in the case of pregnancy for example, the symptoms will eventually subside and the hemorrhoids will disappear. In other cases, however, permanent vascular damage can occur.
Recurrent hemorrhoids may be a symptom of a larger problem. Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) refers to damage or blockage to blood vessels not in the heart or head, and most often in extremities such as the legs. PVD can be extremely serious and can lead to blood clots, pulmonary embolism, varicose veins, and phlebitis. Some common symptoms of PVD are buttock pain, loss of hair on legs, sores on legs or feet that will not heal, and numbness, tingling or weakness in feet or toes. Another symptom of PVD is that the legs or feet may feel cold and turn different colors such as pale, bluish or dark red (Source: Emedicinehealth).
So if PVD can cause hemorrhoids, what causes PVD? Often, PVD is linked to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries because of plaque build-up. Plaque is made from fat, calcium, cholesterol, and fibrin, an insoluble protein necessary for blood clotting. When plaque builds up in veins and arteries, the clog either slows down or stops blood flow. The decreased blood flow can cause ischemia and prevent cells from receiving adequate oxygen. If PVD is not managed, it can lead to heart attack or stroke.
What can be done to prevent further vascular damage and the onset of PVD?
- Communicate with your doctor. Keep regular appointments and get checked often.
- Stay active for at least 30 minutes per day.
- Eat whole foods, increase fiber and drink more water to prevent constipation and the development of hemorrhoids, which damage vascular tissue.
- Take supplements of vitamin C and E and lecithin. These supplements help prevent hemorrhoids and varicose veins.
- Raw sugar, apricots, cherries, rosehips, blackberries and buckwheat are all known to stave off varicose veins.
- Try massaging the legs toward the heart to improve circulation and blood flow.
- Warm baths and anal compresses can help soothe and relieve discomfort.