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Anal Fissure

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Anal fissure is a common condition that occurs when one suffers from a tear in the lower anal lining. This condition is noticeable when one spots blood in their stools or toilet paper. This condition is not very serious and can be treated in a few weeks.

Overview of Anal Fissure

Also called as fissure in-ano is a tear in the skin around the anal opening. It causes bleeding and severe pain, especially during bowel movement. It usually heals in about 1 to 2 weeks. However, if the condition exists for more than 6 weeks, it is called as a chronic condition. The tear or break in the skin usually very small. But as the skin around the anus is very sensitive, passing of stools can worsen the pain. It also causes slight bleeding and the pain last for about an hour after passing stools. It can affect both, adults and children.

What Causes Anal Fissure?

Anal fissure is usually idiopathic in nature. This means, the exact cause is never known.

Some of the causes that can lead to break or tear in the anal skin include:

  • Highly constipated people who pass hard stools
  • Passing very large stools that causes the anal canal to stretch more than it normally does.
  • Very tight anal sphincter muscles that cause tear in anal skin
  • Chron’s disease
  • Spasms in internal anal sphincter muscles that causes a decrease in blood supply to the anus.
  • Women may develop anal fissures due to trauma suffered during childbirth
  • Young children with poor toileting habits
  • Diarrhea
  • Pinworm infection that causes one to continuously and vigorously scratch the anus

Symptoms of Anal Fissure

The symptoms of an anal fissure are as follows:

  • Sharp, burning pain during a bowel movement
  • Pain that can last for more than an hour after passing stools
  • Severe itching in the anus
  • Slight bleeding seen on toilet paper or drops of blood on the toilet bowl
  • Sometimes one may observe a smelly, yellowish pus discharge from the anus

Diagnosis of Anal Fissure

Observation of the anus helps the doctor diagnose an anal fissure. At times, the doctor may use an anoscope to examine the fissure. He may even rule out other possibilities like inflammatory bowel disease, anal cancer, etc. by observing other fissures present in areas where anal fissures do not generally occur.

Treatment of Anal Fissures

Anal fissures usually heal on their own in a few weeks. However, treatment helps in easing the pain, burning and discomfort experienced due to the tear.

These treatments include:

  • Use of laxatives that help make the stools soft and easier to pass. Many people due to the fear of pain suffer from constipation. In this case, the stools become harder and harder and difficult to pass. Laxatives help soften the stools, making them easier to pass through the anus.
  • The doctor may ask you to increase the amount of fiber in your diet. More fiber means softer stools. These fibrous foods include brown rice, beans, pasta, whole grain bread, lentils, fruits, vegetables, etc.
  • Increase the intake of water per day as it will help in passing stools
  • Medications that help relax the sphincter muscles may be prescribed. These include nitroglycerin, nifedipine, diltiazem, etc.
  • Surgery is required only in cases where the anal fissures do not heal within 3 months of treatment. The surgery carried out includes lateral internal sphincterotomy and anal dilation. These surgeries are carried out under general anesthesia.

One can even apply petroleum jelly to the anus to help in healing the tear. Severe constipation may lead to anal fissures. Thus, make sure you seek treatment for constipation in order to prevent anal fissures. In case one does suffer from a tear, they should seek medical advise to heal the anal fissure quickly as well as to rule out other conditions that may lead to this painful condition.

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Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: December 10, 2014