Blood in the stool, painful bowel movements, anal itching…patients that experience these symptoms may be worried what these symptoms mean and if they’re evidence of hemorrhoids or anal fissures.
These two conditions may seem similar with their symptoms and causes, but they are two separate conditions. Here’s what you should know about anal fissures vs. hemorrhoids:
Anal fissures are exactly what they sound like: Fissures in the anus. These are usually small and cause no long-term effects and heal on their own.
Anal fissures can be caused by several factors that can also cause patients to develop hemorrhoids:
- Passing a large or hard stool
- Straining during bowel movements
There also may be a visible crack in the skin or a small lump around the anus as opposed to the swollen veins of hemorrhoids. Like hemorrhoids, anal fissures can affect people of all ages.
Anal fissures don’t usually require medical intervention, as they can heal on their own with at-home treatment. Recommend patients keep their stool soft by increasing their water and fiber intake.
If the fissure is severe enough and does not respond to other treatments, it may require surgery to reduce pain and promote healing.
On the other hand, hemorrhoids are veins in the anus or lower rectum that have become swollen. They can be caused by a variety of factors including:
- Low-fiber diet
Hemorrhoids can be internal or external and common symptoms include:
- Painless bleeding during bowel movements
- Pink, purple, or blue colored bumps around or protruding from the anus
- Painful bowel movements
For hemorrhoids that are persistent or painful, medical intervention may be required depending on the severity of the hemorrhoid. These treatments can take the form of:
- Rubber band ligation, a non-surgical option for hemorrhoid Grades I-III
- Hemorrhoidectomy, a surgical option when the hemorrhoid does not respond to other methods