Every year, anal fissures affect an average 3 million U.S. citizens who experience pain while passing stool coupled with anal bleeding. Such a condition is enough to cast one into discomfort, fear or stress. Is it worth worrying about?
There is no cause for alarm because science states that this condition, known as anal fissures, is normal.
Here are facts about anal fissures:
An anal fissure is usually a tear, small in size, in the mucosa (thin, moist tissue lining the anus). The crack mainly occurs from passing large or too hard stool during bowel movements. Pain and bleeding diagnose the presence of a fissure(s). Spasms may also occur in the anus.
Children and adults alike can develop this condition. They are, however, most common in infants. On average, a fissure will heal in a month or two. Failure to heal within this period calls for advanced medical intervention such as medication or surgery.
- A visible crack in the anal skin
- Irritation or itching of the anus
- A lump close to the fissure
- Pain that can last hours after passing stool
- A severe sharp pain when passing stool
- Bright red blood on toilet paper or water
- The anal fissures may not be normal if:
- They fail to heal within six weeks
- They are recurrent
- The tear extends to muscles in the anal ring
The most common causes of fissures are:
- Inflammation of anorectal area (by any inflammatory bowel disease)
- Chronic diarrhea (erodes anal lining)
- Passing hard or large stool (causes tearing)
- Straining when passing stool (causes excess stretching of anal muscles thus tearing)
- Constipation (leads to hard stool)
The rare causes of anal fissures are:
- Anal cancer
- Syphilis, and
- Nitroglycerin increases blood flow to the fissure and promotes repair
- Botox injection and steroid creams relieve discomfort
- Blood pressure medication relaxes the sphincter muscles
- Surgery permanently solves the problem
- To prevent or heal anal fissures faster, doctors encourage drinking sufficient fluids, relaxing during bowel movements, exercising regularly, and eating high-fiber foods.