Fistula: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Overview of Fistula

An anal fistula is an inflammation of the blood vessels of the anal canal that results in an abnormal channel between the anal canal and the skin near the anus. 

It is usually seen in the people who had an earlier anal abscess. An anal abscess is a cavity formed because of infection and is filled with purulent discharge. Fistula forms when the drained abscess does not heal completely. 

Anal fistula results in bleeding along with the discharge from it. Once a fistula develops, it should not be left untreated as it can get severe with time, such as persistence of drainage for a long time.

Quick Facts on Fistula

  • If not treated properly, an anal fistula may potentially cause bowel incontinence

  • In complicated vaginal deliveries, an obstetric fistula may develop between the rectum and the vaginal cavity

  • People younger than the 40 years of age have higher risks of developing anal fistula

Causes of Anal Fistula

  • Chronic Constipation

  • Chronic Diarrhea

  • Prolonged Anal fissure

  • Excess straining while bowel movement

  • Lifting heavy objects

Signs and Symptoms of Anal Fistula

  • Pain and swelling in the anal region

  • Painful and straining bowel movements

  • Recurring anal abscess

  • Itching and discharge of pus

  • Frequent fever

Diagnosis

Doctors usually physically examine the area surrounding the anus to ascertain the depth and direction of the fistula tract.  The doctor may produce some discharge from the external opening. If the physical examination is not enough to locate the fistula, then other tests like Anoscopy is carried out. To determine the cause of anal fistula, the doctor may also need to ask for an MRI or ultrasound or Fistulography as well.

Treatment of Anal Fistula

Home Remedies for Anal Fistula

Visiting a doctor is mandatory in the case of fistula. In the initial stage of anal fistula, home remedies are quite effective in reducing the symptoms of anal fistula. The best and the most effective remedial steps to be followed at home are as follows:

  • Keep yourself hydrated – Drink about 8-10 glasses of water every day. Refrain from caffeinated beverages and alcohol as they tend to dehydrate the body. Choose healthier alternatives like fruit juices, turmeric milk, and ginger tea. This will keep constipation away. High fluid intake will make the stools softer and will also keep the intestines clear.
  • Boost your immunity – Maintain a healthy diet that improves your immunity to resist and fight infections. Include olive oil, fish, citrus fruits in your regular diet as they are rich in vitamin C, omega-3s, and omega-6s. It will reduce the inflammation of the fistula and give you some comfort.
  • Use Cushion or Pillow –  Using a pillow or cushion of a ring shape helps in relieving the pressure from the vessels of the anal region. This will make you feel comfortable.
  • Sitz Bath – People with painful fistula can get relief by sitting in moderately warm water several times a day. This procedure is called sitz bath. It is a hot water bath that cleans the rectal area and prevents bacteria build-up. The sitz bath is most effective when taken after passing stools. It provides immediate relief from pain and irritability in the rectal region and keeps the blood flow right.
  • Personal hygiene is a must – Keep the anal region clean, wash it gently every time you go to the toilet. This will prevent any infection caused by bacteria build-up. Keep the wipes handy for emergency situations. Regularly change the underclothing if the fistula leaks. Keep your hands clean as it will reduce the chances of perianal irritability due to fistula. Taking all the remedial steps will definitely bring about a great change in your condition.

Homeopathy for Anal Fistula

Never take any medication without consulting a homeopathic doctor to avoid any side effects or allergies. Some of the most effective homeopathy medicines for fistula are as follows:

  • Myristica sebifera–  This homeopathic medicine proves quite effective in reducing the discharge from the fistula and speeds up the healing. In less severe cases, it even completely gets the person cured of fistula.
  • Silica Terra– Silica Terra acts effectively in treating the discharge from the fistula. Sometimes, blood may also be present in the stools along with purulent discharge. Silica terra aids in treating the hypersensitive and inflamed skin around the anus.
  • Hepar Sulph

    – This homeopathic medicine gives relief from the acute pain caused by fistula. It heals the inflammation in the skin of the anus area. This medicine also proves to be effective in subsiding the swelling around the anus.

Surgical Laser Treatment for Fistula

If the symptoms of the anal fistula keep getting serious with time and all the remedies fail, then reach out to your nearest specialist doctor. The modern laser-assisted technique to get rid of anal fistula is more effective than any other remedies. If your condition has reached a stage where immediate surgery is needed, we advise you to just reach out to the best proctologist for the advanced surgical treatment instead of traditional open surgery. Do not delay the treatment, to avoid any complications. The benefits of laser surgery include no repeated visits to the hospital and speedy recovery of the patient. The laser treatment is minimally invasive, causes no bleeding and there are no big cuts or incisions involved in the treatment. There are no chances of risks after the surgery if the patient follows the instructions given by the doctor for fast and complete healing.

Diet for Fistula Patients

Avoid having spicy, deep-fried and processed foods as they may lead to constipation. Having a diet rich in fibers and fluids is highly recommended to improve the symptoms of fistula. Fiber-rich diet makes the stools soft and bulky, thereby reducing the strain while bowel movements. 

Fiber and fluid rich diet options for fistula are:

  • Banana, apple, orange, papaya pear, prunes, pomegranate, and melon help in keeping the body hydrated an enabling the easy passage stools.

  • Cauliflower, carrots, radish, onion, tomato, peas, beans, broccoli and spinach have quite a high amount of fiber that helps in the healthy digestion process.

  • Brown rice, oatmeals, oat bran, barley, wheat germ, brown bread, cereals, nuts, and seeds also prove to help in providing symptomatic relief in the fistula. 

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