What are the symptoms of a perianal or anal fistula

By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 16, 2017
What are the symptoms of a perianal or anal fistula

Perianal and anal fistulas are more common than you think. They are small channels that occur in the rectal area, from the end of the bowel to the skin of the anus. A fistula causes extreme discomfort, can lead to anal abscesses or anal drainage and must be removed through surgery. Some other conditions, like ingrown hairs, share some common symptoms with anal fistulas, and are not to be confused with fistulas. At we explain this condition and reveal what the symptoms of perianal or anal fistula are.

You may also be interested in: How to Treat Anal Fistula

What is a perianal fistula?

Our intestine, divided into the small and large intestines, carries out vital functions for our body. The intestines work hard to absorb most of the energy, vitamins and water that our body needs, transforming the chyme in our stomachs into stool. It is in the area where the stool is expelled, the anus, that, due to various conditions, fistulas can form.

A fistula is a channel or abscess that forms on the skin or in the mucous membrane. In this specific case, it is a tunnel that is created in the rectal area and filled with fluid and pus and that, due to its location, usually causes very painful and visible symptoms.

What are the causes of perianal fistulas?

Perianal fistula usually occurs in patients with certain conditions, such as:

  • Patients who, in the past, have had a rectal abscess which was not drained properly, eventually leading to a fistula.
  • People who have suffered injury, surgery or trauma to the anal area which has led to the formation of a fistula.
  • Obstructions in the rectal glands which causes the formation of a channel.
  • It may be common in patients with certain intestinal disorders such as constipation, frequent diarrhea, Crohn' s disease, ulcerative colitis or enteritis.
  • It is also frequent in patients with haemorrhoids, in people who practice anal sex or who have been surgically operated on in cases of diverticulitis, appendicitis, amongst others.

Symptoms of a perianal fistula

So how do you know if you have a perianal fistula? The main symptoms are:

  • Pain at the area where the fistula located when going to the bathroom. The pain can be very persistent and can last for hours after using the bathroom.
  • In the area where a fistula is located, a hard lump can be felt inside containing fluid, pus or faecal material. These secretions may result in stained underwear.
  • Itching and discomfort in the area where the blockage is located.
  • Stools may be accompanied by blood.
  • Pain when sitting down.
  • In more severe cases, fever occurs due to infection.

What to do if I suspect I have a rectal fistula?

A medical evaluation will determine if there is indeed an anal fistula or if it is other problems like an ingrown hair or a simple abscess. It is important that if you exhibit some of the symptoms described above, you go to your doctor for a check-up.

If a fistula is diagnosed, surgery will be required to drain the abscess and prevent re-occurrence.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to What are the symptoms of a perianal or anal fistula, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

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What are the symptoms of a perianal or anal fistula
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