An anal fissure is a tear in the lining of the anus or lower rectal area, very similar to a paper cut. The main symptom of an anal fissure is pain during a bowel movement that can last for some time once a stool has been passed. While anal fissures can cause sharp pain during bowel movements, they don’t typically lead to more serious conditions. The good news is that anal fissures are relatively easy to treat and most are considered “acute,” meaning they only last for a few weeks. However, chronic anal fissures, or a rectal cut that lasts more than six weeks, should be examined by a doctor.
Anal fissures affect men and women of all ages. They develop when the sphincter muscles experience trauma due to straining and stretching of the anal canal. Some of the most common anal fissure causes include:
Pregnancy and childbirth are also common anal fissure causes. Many women experience constipation or diarrhea during their pregnancy. And childbirth almost always puts pressure on the anal area. Doctors also see cases of anal fissures caused by Crohn’s disease or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
During bowel movements, an anal fissure might cause sharp pain and a sensation of stinging or burning in the anal area. This pain can last for hours or could disappear a few moments after a stool is passed. Anal fissures can also bleed or produce discharge. In other cases, there isn’t any pain at all, but simply an itchy feeling that won’t go away. While many fissures will go away on their own, hemorrhoids usually stick around. And since it is common for fissures and hemorrhoids to develop at the same time, any kind of pain in the anal area is cause to see a medical professional.
Constipation and diarrhea are the most common anal fissure causes and culprits for making the condition worse. While constipation is not always avoidable, you can help prevent it by eating high-fiber foods and drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid diarrhea by staying away from foods you know your body is sensitive to. If the anal fissure is already present, avoiding constipation and diarrhea may also help it heal faster.
For more information about ways to avoid anal fissures, as well as anal fissure symptoms and causes, schedule a consultation with your local doctor.