Most piles last around seven to ten days and go away without any hemorrhoid treatment. However, clotted or thrombosed external hemorrhoids with recurring symptoms can last for weeks or months and cause extreme pain.
These hemorrhoids may cause you to miss days at work, reduce your concentration, lead to productivity losses, and affect your mental health, increasing your risk of being fired.
So in this post, let’s discuss the various ways hemorrhoids affect you at work and how you can cope with them without risking your job.
How do hemorrhoids affect you at your job?
Hemorrhoids can affect you in a number of ways at your job, including reduced productivity, increased mental health issues, and a higher risk of being fired.
1. Increased physical discomfort and pain
A small internal hemorrhoid typically doesn’t cause anything more than itching and slight discomfort when sitting or walking. However, if you’ve developed external hemorrhoids or large internal hemorrhoids, and they’re bleeding, thrombosed, or prolapsed, you might be in severe pain.
For instance, in the case of thrombosis, a blood clot might develop in the area between your anal tissue and skin, reducing blood flow and causing tissue death, which leads to incredible pain.
2. Reduced concentration and productivity
While pain isn’t especially disruptive in terms of task performance compared to everyday stimuli, you’re still more likely to be sidetracked if you have painful hemorrhoids. Think about this: an average person takes 23 minutes to get back to their task after an interruption.
So, if you experience pain every few minutes — or have to undergo a painful bowel movement accompanied by rectal bleeding every once in a while — you might never be able to get back to a task or perform your job duties to the best of your ability. This can lead to a loss in productivity and even your job if that continues.
3. Negative effects on mental health
Constant interference with daily activities can take a toll on your mental health. For instance, if you’re unable to perform work because of painful hemorrhoids, can’t come to work, and find out your company lost a project, you might feel terrible about the situation.
Plus, you may be let off or sent on unpaid leave until your hemorrhoid heals. This can set you back even more, especially with the medical expenses that can accompany the condition.
4. Higher absenteeism and sick leave
If you’re struggling with chronic external or internal hemorrhoids, you may have to take constant days off when a flare-up happens. This can cause projects to fall through, increase the time-to-completion of projects, and frustrate managers.
Plus, if you take days off too often, you may have to go unpaid because most employers do not offer more than 10 days of paid time off (PTO) per year. This is especially true if you use up all your sick leave in the first few months of the year.
5. Increased risk of being fired
If you’re constantly on break, have maxed out your sick leave, and can’t focus on work, you may be at higher risk of being fired. That’s because, in the eyes of your employers, you aren’t working to make the company money. In other words, you’ll become an unwanted liability for your company.
Now, keep in mind that federal laws prohibit any sort of discrimination, which means your employer can’t fire you without reason. Unfortunately, high absenteeism because of severe hemorrhoid pain can be a good enough reason for your boss to fire you.
Are there any legal protections for people with hemorrhoids?
There are several federal laws that protect the rights of people with hemorrhoids. Let’s take a look at them below:
1. Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title I)
According to Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, employers, labor unions, state and local governments, and employment agencies are prohibited from discriminating against people with disabilities that can lead to major life impairments.
Since serious hemorrhoids can leave people unable to sit, stand, or move for long periods of time — causing a major life impairment, in other words — they qualify for assistance under the act.
The ADA covers employers with more than 15 employees and requires them to make reasonable accommodations to ensure their employees can perform their jobs. These include job restructuring, equipment/device modifications, and work schedule shuffling.
However, employers aren’t required to make accommodations that cause them an “undue hardship,” which refers to an action that needs lots of investment or effort to work, especially in regard to the employer’s financial resources and business structure.
2. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Sections 501 and 505)
Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibit federal programs and agencies from discriminating against people based on a disability.
Since a disability is defined as a major life activity impairment under section 504 of the act, a person with severe hemorrhoids is considered to have a disability — since they may not be able to walk and perform daily activities without help.
Here, it’s important to remember that although these laws do exist, they are unlikely to help you in the workplace.
That’s because most cases of hemorrhoids don’t leave people disabled for the rest of their lives. The condition is easily treatable and takes some time to go away.
This is why the best course of action if you develop hemorrhoids is to take your boss into confidence.
Why is it important to discuss hemorrhoids with your employer?
Your choice to discuss hemorrhoid-related conditions with your employer is largely personal and is based on your work environment, top-down relationships, and your level of task impairment.
However, if you think you’re going to need accommodations to perform your job, you should disclose your diagnosis, especially before you run into a safety concern. If you don’t talk about what’s happening, you might be disciplined or fired for performance issues — and revealing your medical condition will have no effect at that point.
And even if you think that’s not going to happen, don’t take the risk. Instead, ask yourself this question: Can I do my job as described? If you can’t, you should consider talking about your hemorrhoids with your employer.
Remember: it can take a great deal of courage to talk about your medical condition and become vulnerable, especially if it’s related to bowel movements. But in the end, it can reduce pressure and help you care more for your fleeting health, which should be your top priority.
How to discuss hemorrhoids with your employer?
While discussing your hemorrhoids with your employer is probably the best thing for your health, you might not know how to start the conversation. If that’s the case, here’s what to do:
- Before talking about your hemorrhoids, learn everything you can about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure you know your rights. If you don’t know where to begin, you can check out the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s website for information.
- Once you know what you can request, get your facts in order. That means getting proof of your condition in hand, such as a letter from your doctor confirming your condition and listing your needed accommodations. This can help your employer understand what you need from them and whether they can provide it.
- After you have everything on hand, request a private meeting with your employer or manager and explain everything about your illness as simply as possible. Remember that others will treat your illness the same way you do, so be as circumspect as possible.
Also, try to ensure you’re relevant, i.e., only talking about what’s needed instead of what you’re feeling, because that may not convey the impression you need.
How to cope with hemorrhoids at work?
Once you’ve disclosed your struggle with hemorrhoids at your job, you can cope with them in the following ways:
1. Create a support network at work
After you’ve informed your employer of your medical condition, try to create a support network for inevitable flare-ups at work. This network should be made up of your work friends, team leader, and manager because these people will cover for you when you aren’t in and help you navigate your job without getting fired.
2. Switch to ergonomic everything
Sitting, standing, walking, and anything vertical can be painful with hemorrhoids. And normal office chairs and desks, with their 90˚ angles and barely-any range of motion, can make the pain worse. That’s where ergonomic furniture comes in.
Ergonomic furniture includes chairs, desks, and other office equipment made to reduce the risk of injury and facilitate comfort. It can reduce the fatigue experienced by those with hemorrhoids and enable them to find comfortable sitting positions.
3. Ask for reasonable accommodations
If you haven’t already, ask your employer for reasonable accommodations. These can include job restructuring, work schedule modification, work environment changes, and equipment/device modification.
For instance, you could ask your employee for work-from-home options if you find it more comfortable to work at home. Similarly, you could request a part-time work schedule to ensure you can give your best to your job.
In addition, if you’ve undergone a procedure like rubber band ligation to treat hemorrhoids, you can ask your employer to give you a few days off to rest and heal.
Hemorrhoids and work: now you know what to do
Hemorrhoids can significantly impact your work life by causing productivity losses, physical discomfort, and mental health effects. Fortunately, there are various ways you can cope with hemorrhoids without jeopardizing your job, such as requesting reasonable accommodations.
However, you won’t get the support you need without discussing your condition with your employer. So, although it’s easy to be embarrassed by hemorrhoids, don’t be afraid to speak up. Remember: your health should always be a top priority.
Should I be working with hemorrhoids?
Whether you should work with hemorrhoids depends on your work situation. If your job is 80% manual labor, you should avoid lifting heavy things until the last of your hemorrhoids have disappeared.
Similarly, if your job consists of sitting in a chair for eight hours, it can cause hemorrhoids to become worse. That’s because prolonged sitting causes the blood supply to slow down and pool, which can lead to blood clots or painful thrombosed hemorrhoids.
So, if you have painful or external hemorrhoids, try to take a few days off from work to ensure you heal as you should.
How can I sit without putting pressure on my hemorrhoids?
If your job requires you to sit for long periods and you’re struggling with hemorrhoids, you can relieve the pressure by:
- Placing a towel under your upper thighs to lift the affected area.
- Sitting on a donut-shaped cushion. It’ll elevate your buttocks and prevent the contact of hemorrhoid tissue with the chair, which will reduce discomfort.
How do you prevent hemorrhoids if you sit a lot at work?
If you have a lifestyle that leads to hemorrhoids, get up every hour and walk around for one to two minutes. This will cause the pooled blood in your lower extremities to flow properly, allowing you to prevent hemorrhoids.