Q: Why does it hurt to poop, and what can I do about it?
A: If you have a ripping or tearing sensation with bowel movements, you may have an anal fissure. This is a small tear in the skin lining in the anus, which can cause pain or bleeding. Symptoms are extreme pain during defecation and red blood streaking the stool. A hard, dry bowel movement can cause a tear in the anal lining, resulting in a fissure. Other causes of a fissure include diarrhea and inflammation. Over 90 percent will heal without surgery. Good bowel habits include a high fiber diet, fiber supplements, plenty of fluids to avoid constipation and warm baths to soothe and relax the anal muscles. Occasionally, prescription creams may be recommended. A chronic fissure (lasting more than one month) may require additional treatment. See a colorectal surgeon for a fissure that fails to respond to treatment. Those which continue to cause pain and/or bleeding can be corrected by surgery. Complete healing occurs in a few weeks, although pain often disappears in a few days.
- Dr. Shauna Lorenzo-Rivero,University Surgical Associates; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society
Readers: Email health-related questions, to Wesley Holloway at email@example.com. See this space each week for answers.