Hey Good Buddies out there! Let's talk about how you deal with the symptoms of hemorrhoids. I know, I know … “hemorrhoids” does not seem like a very manly (or womanly) topic for you hearty souls who beat those 18-wheelers into submission.

However, do you know that you, as a group, are at a greater risk of developing “piles” than any other occupation? Hemorrhoids are often the “butt” of jokes, but in fact, there is nothing funny about them. Besides making your life miserable, they can have serious consequences in the future.

There are many things you can do at home (for you, “home” will include motels and your truck) to prevent hemorrhoids, and to ease symptoms if you already have piles. It's important not to ignore them (like you could?) Because they will only get worse. And, did you know you may even be able to avoid surgery in the future if you give those hemorrhoids the TLC they need now?

Since we've talked in depth about causes, prevention, symptoms, surgical intervention, and such before, we'll just stick to Home Care (“Truck Care”) at this time. OK, let's roll!

Part One: “Routine” Hemorrhoid Care

Add fiber to your diet by eating fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, cereals and pastas. (Munch on whole grain crackers and chunks of fruits and vegetables while in your truck.)

Avoid “truck stop” food as much as possible. Constipation loves starch, sugar, and grease. Opt for the salads, vegetables, beans, whole wheat bread, and roasted or baked entrees when you can.

Keep a food and symptom diary so that you can detect patterns and avoid foods that cause flare-ups of your hemorrhoids. Perhaps the spices or chocolate or coffee makes things worse. Allow for a “delayed reaction” to foods. Remember, it's a pattern you're looking for.

Drink more water. Aim for 6-8 glasses per day but if that looks like just too much, at least try to double whatever you have been drinking.Don't over-do the other types of fluid though: coffee has caffeine; sodas have sugar; diet drinks have chemicals; juices are concentrated calories; alcohol is drying.

Water is best. (You may notice in the beginning that the increased water causes the need for more “pit stops” than you want. Hang in there … your bladder gets used to the new load of water and “learn” to hold more before requiring emptying .

Change your bowels habits:

1) Try to regulate your bowels to a schedule. For example, use the toilet 20-30 minutes after each meal. Even if you do not go in the beginning, you will establish a pattern soon.

2) When you feel the urge to empty your bowels, do so as soon as possible. The fecal matter sitting in the colon loses water which leads to constipation. It may be difficult in the beginning to make unscheduled stops but if you establish a pattern (see above point) it will soon not be a problem.

3) Do not strain during bowel movements. If you keep the stool soft with fiber and water, you will not need to push.

4) Do not sit on the toilet longer than a few minutes at a time. Doing so increases pressure and causes or aggravates hemorrhoids.

5) Use stool softeners if you need to, but not laxatives!

Avoid heavy lifting. If you must lift, do not hold your breath. (To do so increases rectal pressure.)

Wear cotton underwear and loose fitting clothing so as to keep the rectal area dry.

Keep your rectal area clean. Do not rub; just pat and please do not use scented or perfumed wipes or soaps in the rectal area. They irritate hemorrhoids.

Exercise. This is difficult in your truck but at least change your pressure points as often as possible. Include a short walk when you stop for meals. Do some stretching and bending too.

Part 2: Hemorrhoid Care During Flare-ups

Apply ice several times through-out the day. (Keep frozen commercial ice packs in an insulated container in your truck. Re-freeze them at the end of the day.)

Alternate moist heat with the ice when possible. Either have another insulated warmer in your truck or apply the warmth at the end of the day.

Take a sitz bath when possible. (This just means soak your hemorrhoids in a pan or tub of warm water.) Sleep on your side in order to relieve pressure on your rear-end.

Soak pads with Witch Hazel and put them on your hemorrhoids.

Apply OTC (over-the-counter) creams and ointments or suppositories.

Use non-narcotic pain relievers as needed (tylenol, motrin, aleve for example).

Stop as often as you can to get out of your truck and relieve the pressure on your hemorrhoids.

Do not use donut-shaped pillows. They increase rectal pressure and aggravated hemorrhoids.

These steps should ease the pain during the flare-up. Make of habit of doing the things listed in Part 1 to keep those hemorrhoids under control. Your life will be better for it! Until next time, happy truckin '