What is Anal Fissure and How is it Treated?
What is Anal Fissure?
An anal fissure is a tear or cuts in the soft, thin and moist tissue lining the anus. It may occur as a result of passing large and hard stools during a bowel movement. An anal fissure can cause discomfort and bleeding during a bowel movement. Anal fissures occur among people of all ages but they are most common among young people. It is a common medical condition and accounts for up to 6% to 15% of visits to a rectal and colon surgeon. Upon treatment, it takes up to four to six weeks to heal.
Symptoms of Anal Fissure
An anal fissure comes with various symptoms and they include:
- Bleeding and sharp pain during bowel movement
- Traces of blood on stools or toilet paper after wiping the anus
- Itching or burning sensation in the anal area
- A small lump of skin close to the cut
- Pain that can last up to several hours after a bowel movement
- A crack in the skin around the anus
- Malodorous discharge from the anus
- Sharp pain during wiping
Causes of Anal Fissure
Anal fissures are primarily caused by passing hard and large stools during constipation. Decreased blood flow to the anorectal area, straining during childbirth, frequent diarrhoea and traumatic diseases are possible causes of anal fissure. In rare cases, anal cancer, syphilis and HIV can lead to anal fissure.
Anal Fissure Treatment
Most anal fissures heal on their own. However, certain anal fissure treatments can be applied to ameliorate the symptoms and help promote healing. Treatment methods of an anal fissure include:
- Taking Stool Softeners: Using over-the-counter stool softeners aids patients to be able to soften their stool lessening the impact they have on the moist tissues lining their anus
- Eat Fibrous Foods and Fibre Supplements: Foods such as banana have a high fibre content that makes them excellent laxatives to make bowel movements easy and painless. Eating fibrous foods can help prevent anal fissures by softening stools.
- Applying Pain Relievers: There are topical painkilling ointments that you can apply to the affected anal area to ease discomfort
- Surgery: Surgery is an effective way to treat anal fissure notwithstanding that it can come with some complications
- Staying Hydrated: Drinking lots of water is another good way of easing the symptoms of anal fissure and encouraging healing
- Soaking Bottom in Warm Bath: Soaking of the bottom in a warm bath after bowel movement soothes the pain
- Exercising: Partaking in 150 minutes of physical activity every week promotes anal fissure healing
- Take Sitz Bath: Taking a sitz bath relaxes the anal muscles and increases blood flow to the area
- Avoid Sitting on the Toilet Seat For Too Long: Sitting on the toilet seat for too long strains the anal muscles leading to anal fissure
- Gently Wipe Your Anus: After a bowel movement gently wipe your anus to avoid straining the anal muscles
- Do Not Delay Bowel Movements: Putting off bowel movements leads to the hardening of stools. When they are passed later they can strain the tissues lining the anus
How an Anal Fissure is Diagnosed
To diagnose an anal fissure, a colon medical expert examines the area around the anus. During the examination, a doctor inserts an anoscope into the anus to be able to see the tear. Using the anoscope the doctor will be able to detect symptoms and possible causes of the anal fissure. This will aid them to provide adequate treatment.
They will be able to see the anal fissure by gently parting your buttocks or inserting a lubricated, gloved finger into your anus. They may carry out the diagnosis by enquiring about your toilet habit.
Who Is Affected by Anal Fissure
Since constipation is common among all age groups; no age group is excluded from having an anal fissure. In fact, 1 out of 10 people has been affected by anal fissure at one point in their life. However, children and young adults between the age of 10 and 30 are more inclined to have an anal fissure.