Do you notice spots of bright red blood when you wipe? Do you experience anal itching? If so, these could be signs of an anal fissure. The lining of the anus is delicate and has the ability to tear, especially when straining or dealing with constipation. This is so common that gastroenterologists often see more patients presenting with anal fissures than hemorrhoids.
What can cause an anal fissure?
If you’ve ever had an anal fissure before you know just how uncomfortable they can be. By knowing what causes an anal fissure you may also be able to prevent one from happening in the future. A fissure typically results from trauma to the anus caused by,
- Passing hard stools or straining during a bowel movement
- Persistent or recurring diarrhea
- Anal intercourse
- Crohn’s disease
How do I know that I have an anal fissure?
You may be dealing with an anal fissure if you notice pain with a bowel movement. The pain can be quite sharp and intense, and you may even experience burning or pain for hours after. Other symptoms include anal itching and drops of blood when wiping (typically bright red blood). If you notice black or dark stools, this is a sign of internal bleeding and it’s important to see a gastroenterologist right away.
How is an anal fissure treated?
Most fissures will heal on their own with proper care. There are things you can do to help promote healing. These include,
- Staying hydrated and drinking lots of fluids
- Getting daily exercise
- Consuming a high-fiber diet
- Avoiding straining with a bowel moment
- Go to the bathroom when you need to (do not hold it in)
- Relax in a Sitz bath
- Use baby wipes rather than toilet paper (which may be too dry and rough) after a bowel movement
- Sometimes, stool softeners and fiber supplements can be helpful
The majority of anal fissures will heal by themselves; however, if you’ve been dealing with this problem for more than eight weeks then it’s time to see a gastroenterologist for treatment. There are specific prescription creams or medications that can be used to help treat the fissure. In rare cases, surgery is needed.
If you are experiencing rectal bleeding or pain you must turn to a gastroenterologist to find out what’s going on, as these can also be symptoms of other more serious digestive and intestinal issues.