By Mark Freeman

Hemorrhoid or anal fissure. Either one is a very painful condition. Some people who have anal fissures think their pain is caused by hemorrhoids and some who have hemorrhoids mistakenly think they suffer from an anal fissue. Here we’ll try to explain the difference.

An anal fissure is, simply stated, a small tear or cut in the lining of the anus. Anal fissures are generally caused by straining while on the toilet or by constipation. Sometime fissures are related to severe bouts of diarrhea. Fissures can be quite painful, especially during a bowel movement when the fissure is stretched. There will be red blood streaking the stool if you have a fissure.


Over 90% of fissures will heal without surgery. Recommendations to help prevent recurrence are increasing the fiber intake in your diet. This can be best achieved by taking an over the counter fiber supplement. Drink plenty of water to help keep your stools soft. Some take stool softeners, but do not take them for a longer period of time than is suggested by the manufacturer. Warm sitz baths can help ease the pain. Sit in a few inches of warm water for 15 minutes two to three times a day. When you wipe, use a cotton ball or pad soaked in witch hazel. You can buy pre moistened wipes in your drug store. Some who suffer with fissures are prescribed topical cortisone creams. Tylenol and Ibuprofen can help ease the pain.

Hemorrhoids are a very common medical ailment that affect both men and women. A hemorrhoid is an enlarged or swollen anal vein. As with anal fissures, hemorrhoids develop due to bad bathroom habits, such as sitting on the toilet for prolonged periods or straining. You will notice bright red blood with hemorrhoids. You may suffer from internal or external hemorrhoids. Generally internal hemorrhoids, which appear higher up in the anus are not painful, and only cause bleeding. It’s when an internal hemorrhoid prolapses, or drops outside of the anus and becomes what is know as an external hemorrhoid that it becomes painful and problematic.

Like anal fissures, hemorrhoid symptoms can be helped by sitz baths, wiping with cotton soaked with witch hazel, taking stool softeners, drinking more water, and increasing the fiber in your diet with a fiber supplement. There are numerous over the counter medications that can help relieve symptoms.

Please remember, not all rectal bleeding is due to hemorrhoids and fissures. If you experience any rectal bleeding it should be checked immediately by a physician.

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