Even though both may appear to be lumps of tissue protruding from the rectum, an anal abscess differs from piles/hemorrhoids. An anal abscess is actually a cavity near the anus opening or deep in the rectum, which contains pus. Many individuals may at first mistake an anal abscess for a hemorrhoid when they first notice the symptoms. However, with increase in pain and a development of a fever, it becomes obvious it is something more.
Out of 10,000 people, at least 8-9 will experience an anal abscess during their lifetime. If left untreated, it can cause serious complications that could result in death. It is always best to seek the advice of your doctor.
Anal Abscess Causes
The rectal region of the body contains glands which normally function to lubricate the area. When these glands become infected by bacteria they cause damage and blockage to the gland. This bacterium gets trapped in the gland and mixes with the existing fluid and produces pus. As a result an anal abscess forms. Over time this pus becomes inflamed and the symptoms become more severe making it painful and impossible to sleep.
Individuals with Crohn’s disease or Hodgkin disease have an increase risk of developing an anal abscess as do individuals who have a condition that weakens the body’s immune system. It is also shown that men are more likely to develop an anal abscess over women.
Anal Abscess Types
In the body, there are two types of anal abscesses that can develop.
The perirectal abscess forms when blockage occurs to the ducts of the anal glands. An infection develops which causes pus to accumulate. The anal abscess then progresses into the anal spaces. Approximately 25% of perirectal abscesses result in fistula. In rare cases, dealth can occur if there is inappropriate treatment of a perirectal abscess.
The perianal abscess occurs when there is a small collection of pus just under the skin surrounding the anus and can easily be taken for hemorrhoids.
Both need immediate attention from a physician.
Anal abscess symptoms
Anal abscess symptoms are distinctive if you know what to look for and differ from the milder symptoms of hemorrhoids.
- An individual might first notice progressive pain in the rectal area and a lump or swelling that may actually move when pushed upon.
- Symptoms also include fatigue, abdominal discomfort and very painful bowel movements.
- Symptoms that include fever, night sweats or severe pain when moving may be signs that it has become systematic.
- Anal abscess symptoms come on quick while hemorrhoid symptoms may take longer to develop.
If you suspect that you have an anal abscess, it is best to seek medical attention. It can turn into a very serious problem if left untreated. In extreme circumstances the infection can enter the blood stream and cause serious damage.
Diagnosing the Anal Abscess
Seeing the doctor about an anal abscess can be embarrassing but needs to happen especially if you are having a fever or serious pain. It is important to be as open as possible and answer all of the doctor’s questions because diagnosing an anal abscess can be difficult.
A physical exam, blood work and possibly x-rays will be done to confirm diagnosis.
As anal abscesses can be difficult to diagnose at the best of times, when you see your doctor it is important to answer all questions fully and to freely volunteer information.
Treatment of an Anal Abscess
Treatment of an anal abscess usually involves draining the anal abscess, followed by antibiotics to eliminate the infection, and pain medication to make you comfortable. The incision site will be packed with gauze and left unstitched so that it can continue to drain over several days. If the anal abscess was to be stitched up after drainage, there is a good chance the abscess could reform.
Your doctor will more than likely recommend stool softeners and adding fiber and plenty of water to your diet to help keep yourself regular.