Truck drivers and hemorrhoids are often associated together by many people. But that is probably not the connection you want to be made between you and your job. You would rather be thought of as a road warrior—strong, independent, and virile—a free spirit braving all types of weather and obstacles to bring your cargo to its destination safely. This is the romantic view the public has of truck drivers, yet the reality, as you know, is different than the perception. Truck drivers as a group face more occupational stress and are more prone to illnesses than the general working population. The bane of truck drivers is the tendency to develop hemorrhoids. Truck drivers and hemorrhoids are an occupational hazard that comes about from your working conditions. Actually, if measures are taken to find a cure for your hemorrhoids, your overall health will improve dramatically.
If you are a typical long-haul truck driver, you have to cope with a host of adverse occupational conditions. Truck drivers and hemorrhoids become caught up in a vicious cycle. The narrow working space limits your ability to move freely and sitting for many hours in the same position increases stress overall on your body, and particularly in the pelvic region. People who work at desks face the same problems, but they are not totally confined as you are. The professional trucker cannot get up and move around or get a drink at the water fountain as other workers can do. Irregular shifts, road conditions, twisting postures, and the vibration of the cab contribute additional stress on your body. Plus the trucker can be almost motionless for many hours, and then when you arrive at your destination, you do heavy lifting. This puts a strain on the cardiovascular system and may be one of the reasons why truckers have a higher incidence of high blood pressure and heart attacks. Hemorrhoids are part of that vascular system that becomes overloaded. Truck drivers and hemorrhoids are a lethal combination that can put an end to an otherwise satisfying career.
Sitting for long hours in the cab in the same position, creates sustained pressure on the rectal area. If poor circulation results and blood pools in the veins of the rectum, hemorrhoids can form. Truck drivers and hemorrhoids are the result of the restrained working environment. Add to that a poor diet lacking in fiber, and constipation results. Constipation and straining at bowel movements are a major causes of hemorrhoids. It seems to be a vicious cycle once the hemorrhoids form. The job conditions contribute to the hemorrhoids worsening, and the trucker needs to work harder at ridding himself than the average person. But the situation isn’t impossible, and you can find yourself on the road (no pun intended) back to regaining your health and becoming hemorrhoid-free. Truck drivers and hemorrhoids are terms that can be separated.
Coping with hemorrhoids on the road:
- Do not strain at a bowel movement. If the urge isn’t there, leave the toilet and wait for nature to call again.
- Use moist toilet paper or towelettes to avoid irritation to the anal area.
- If possible use a “sitz bath." This is a plastic basin that fits over a toilet in which you can soak your rectal area in hot water. Soak for 10 to 20 minutes each time several times a day. Soaking will soothe the hemorrhoids and relax the muscles.
- Use an ice pack on the anal area in the form of a gel pack or a cold therapy pack. They are more effective and less messier than an actual ice pack. Using cold therapy after a sitz bath is particularly effective. The cold will help shrink the hemorrhoids and relieve itching.
- Use a topical cream such as Comfrey. This soothing cream containing natural ingredients will relieve the itching and burning.
- Drink eight to ten glasses of water a day to soften your stool. Truck drivers and hemorrhoids are equally helped by added liquid.
- Use a stool softener if you need additional help. Stool softeners are sold over-the-counter at drug stores in liquid or capsule form. But beware, don’t combine stool softeners with mineral oil, a lubricant laxative, because stool softeners may increase the absorption and toxicity of mineral oil. Mineral oil absorbed into the body can cause inflammation in the liver, spleen, and lymph glands.
- Aid healing of your digestive tract with herbal remedies which will relieve the burning, itching, and bleeding of the internal hemorrhoids.
- Use a rectal bulb to flush away impurities and bacteria from the rectum.
- Eat meals at regular times every day. Truck drivers and hemorrhoids tend to go together because of the irregularity of the job. Try to regulate your digestive system by eating at the same time every day instead of haphazardly.
- Choose meals containing fiber but low in carbohydrates and fats. Avoid fast food restaurants and foods high in sodium. Truck drivers and hemorrhoids are synonymous with the diet from greasy spoons.
- When at a rest stop, exercise by stretching and walking.
Truck drivers and hemorrhoids don’t necessarily need to go together if you take care of your health. Let go of the junk foods which lead to an ever-increasing appetite for more of the same. Work on eating healthy foods at regular times and exercising. Drink water as much as possible during the day to give your body the lubrication it needs in the digestive tract. It won’t be easy at first, but if you can break your unhealthy habits, it will go a long way to restoring your health. Let the public perception of the strong and virile truck driver be a reality. If professional drivers work on a healthy lifestyle, people will no longer assume the association between truck drivers and hemorrhoids.
Written for H.I.C by
Joy Seeman, H.I.C Staff Writer
© Hemorrhoid Information Center