The sufferings entailed by an anal fistula can make it difficult for the person to perform day to day activities with ease. While it is true that not every case of anal fistula requires intensive care or surgery, the fissures that are big or have a possibility of creating further problems make surgery necessary. Physicians specializing in anal and rectal diseases are usually medical professionals who can treat anal fistula.
The common causes of an anal fistula
There can be many reasons behind the development of an anal fistula. The main cause of diabetes and tuberculosis can be the straining of the rectal muscles during physical exertion.
Anal fistulas can be the result of abscesses in the anal canal. The draining of these abscesses is necessary as it might result in minor fissures. On average, about 50 percent of abscesses present in the colon tract can potentially lead to fissures.
Fissures are also a common occurrence in pregnant women. During childbirth, sometimes there can be overstraining of the anal muscles that can cause a fissure. Patients who suffer from diseases related to the lower tract of the digestive canal, like Crohn’s disease, or have undergone a previous rectal surgery face a higher risk of developing a fistula.
Apart from the already mentioned reasons, straining activities like incorrectly lifting heavy objects, frequent or aggressive anal penetration during intercourse, and even obesity can play a role in causing anal fistulas.
When to see a doctor if you suspect an anal fistula?
The symptoms shown by an anal fistula might indicate a bigger underlying problem. Therefore it is advisable to get an appointment with your doctor if you experience the following symptoms:
- Extreme general fatigue
- Frequent high fevers accompanied by chills
- Sudden shooting pain during bowel movement that can continue for some time afterward as well
- Drainage of bad-smelling fluid or pus near the anus opening
- Painful swelling near the anus region
- Irritated skin near the anus
It becomes crucial for those who have a history of rectal diseases or have suffered from a fissure in the past to see their doctor if they experience even moderate symptoms immediately.
Treatments available for anal fistula:
The internet is full of people claiming many home remedies work like magic in curing anal fistulas. Although it would be foolish to discredit home remedies’ usefulness, it would be equally foolish to trust them blindly. The usefulness and effectiveness of home remedies can be contested when the case of the fistula is severe.
One should consult an experienced doctor who can treat anal fistula before making decisions about self-treating the fissure. Often, the fistula is harmless in its early stages and can be treated without any problem. But there are instances when it can be further aggravated if it is left unattended or if one tries to treat it themselves at home without proper medical advice.
In cases of inflamed or draining fistula, doctors are most likely to suggest surgery. Fortunately, due to the continuous advancements in medicinal technology, there are several kinds of surgeries available for treating anal fistulas.
The most trusted and painless surgery options include:
- Laser-based fistula treatment: This procedure is short, taking anywhere between 40 minutes to an hour on average. In this surgical process, the surgeon introduces the laser probe inside the marked fistula tract. The inserted laser probe is then expertly guided to destroy the problematic fistula tissues, and the track is sealed. It is an almost non-invasive and painless medical procedure. Laser treatment also reduces the healing time of the patient.
- Video-assisted anal fistula treatment: Often shortened to VAAFT, the video-assisted treatment is least invasive and painless. The doctors have access to the inside view of the fistula tract facilitated by the video telescope. It helps in the identification and treatment of even the tiniest infected areas.
The specially designed brush and medical-grade forceps help the doctors clear the granulation tissues from inside the tract. And the unipolar electrode is used to perform diathermy inside the fistula. The diathermic process involves applying the required amount of heat on the inflamed lesions or abscesses (or, as in this case, an anal fistula).
Precautions that should be taken after treatment of anal fistula:
Any doctor specializing in rectal surgeries and treatment of colon tract related diseases would advise the patients suffering from or recovering from an anal fistula to observe the following precautions:
- Warm bath soaking: Most doctors recommend this as it provides instant relief from the fistula’s discomfort and pain. For this, fill the bathtub or a basin with warm water and sit in it for about five to fifteen minutes.
- Steering clear of constipation: Passing stools when suffering from an anal fistula is a painful experience. Passing hard stools (a consequence of constipation) would be no less than a nightmare. Therefore it is advised to take laxatives or other medicines to keep the feces soft to reduce the discomfort.
- High fiber foods: As discussed in the above part, constipation is not welcome in the case of anal fistula. Therefore, to avoid constipation, it becomes necessary to eat high fiber foods and exercise daily. This habit would also promote a person’s overall digestive health, resulting in a reduced risk of getting an anal fistula.
- Maintaining hygiene: Washing the perianal area gently with pH regulated cleansers or soaps is beneficial in recovery. One should also take care that the area is dry and free from irritation.
Suffering from anal fistula is not a pleasant experience by any account. Therefore you would not want it to come back and torture you more. But to prevent the recurring of an anal fistula, practicing good hygiene habits and following a good diet is necessary. In case of pain and itching like sensations near the anus region, it is best to consult doctors who can treat anal fistula.