Understanding The Difference Between Hemorrhoids & Anal Fissures

While discomfort in the bathroom is never fun, it can also be unavoidable for some people. But if you’re experiencing more than the odd bout of uncomfortable bathroom breaks, then your symptoms could point to something more serious.  

Once you’ve begun paying attention to the symptoms of your issue, whether it be painful discomfort while going to the bathroom or blood on your toilet paper, you may suspect hemorrhoids. However, your symptoms could point to another issue called anal fissures. While the two conditions are different, they can present similar symptoms. Below we will look at the main differences between hemorrhoids and anal fissures.

What is a hemorrhoid?

Hemorrhoids occur when there is pressure in the veins around the anus, causing them to expand and push out. Hemorrhoids can be very painful, or cause no discomfort at all. Hemorrhoids are found both inside the opening of the anus, or are pushed out through the anal opening.

Symptoms of hemorrhoids include:

·       Itching around the anus

·       Discomfort or pain, especially when sitting or having a bowel movement

·       Fresh blood on toilet tissue

·       Noticeable lump near the anus

What is an anal fissure?

An anal fissure is a small tear in the thin, moist tissue called the mucosa, which lines your anus. Anal fissures may form from a larger-than-normal bowel movement or when someone experiences frequent constipation or diarrhea. This strain to the anus can cause the muscles in the surrounding area to tear, resulting in anal fissures. Anal fissures typically cause severe pain and bleeding during bowel movements.

Symptoms of anal fissures include:

·      Often severe pain during bowel movements

·      Lingering pain after bowel movements

·      Bright red blood on the stool or toilet paper after a bowel movement

·      A discernible rip in the skin around the anus

Differences Between Hemorrhoids and Anal Fissures

The symptoms of a fissure and a hemorrhoid can be similar, as both cause pain, itching and bleeding. However, if you are in pain and don't notice an external lump, the condition is more likely to be a fissure.  

Anal Fissure Treatment vs Hemorrhoid Treatment

Another big difference is the fact that most cases of anal fissures do not need surgery and can usually be treated with lifestyle changes, whereas hemorrhoids often require a non-invasive procedure or medical treatment.

The easiest way to determine whether you’re experiencing hemorrhoids or anal fissures is to visit your doctor or a colorectal specialist for an examination. Call Colorectal Clinic of Tampa Bay to schedule an appointment today!