One of the little joys of life is a good bowel movement. In most cases, you’ll come from the toilet feeling lighter, relieved, and better than when you went in. It also adds that extra pep you require to get through your day. In some cases, however, pooping can leave you in serious pain—and if that’s the case, you may be a victim of anal fissures.
For starters, an anal fissure is a tear in the lining of your anal canal—in the posterior portion. It is often caused by constipation and strained bowel movements. Laxative abuse and anal trauma (including anal sex) are other causes of fissures. They can also occur during childbirth and as a result of sexually-transmitted diseases, inflammatory bowel diseases, or scarring after prior surgical procedures.
In most cases, anal fissures heal themselves without treatment—within a few weeks. However, you can speed up the process by avoiding constipation and increasing the amount of fiber in your diet to soften your stool. Victims of fissures are often advised to eat wheat bran, a lot of vegetables, cereals, whole-grain bread, and fruits. It is also important to drink a lot of water—6 to 8 glasses per day—as insufficient fluids in the body can contribute to constipation.
So, how do you tell if your fissure is healing?
The first thing that should confirm to you that your fissure is healing is disappearing symptoms. If you no longer experience the common symptoms of a fissure, then you should begin feeling confident that your fissures are slowly healing. Here are some of the common symptoms of fissures:
- Burning or stinging pain during bowel movements: Fissure-associated pains can be quite severe and can last anywhere from a few seconds to several hours. In severe cases, the pain can cause spasm of the muscles surrounding the rectum, making the pain to intensify.
- Bleeding: You may see a spot of blood on a tissue paper or some drops in the toilet bowl. Dark red blood or very dark, tarry stools may be a sign of a more serious problem
However, a lack of the above symptoms is not a surefire way of telling whether or not a fissure is healing. In some instances, an anal fissure may be painless. Additionally, bleeding can sometimes be caused by piles in a nearby region.
Tip: The absence of pain is an indication of healing to some extent.
Healing can only be confirmed through direct examination by a doctor who specializes in conditions affecting the anus and rectum. Examination is also critical for ruling out other causes of bleeding and pain such as abscesses, hemorrhoids, and viral ulcers.
Even if the surgeon or your doctor confirms that your fissure is healing, you need to follow-up after a few weeks. This will allow the practitioner to check if the fissure has completely healed or showing signs of improvement. If your fissure hasn’t healed or shown more severe symptoms, you may be referred to a colorectal surgeon for specialized treatment.