Fistula: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

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  • Overview of Fistula
  • Quick Facts on Fistula
  • Causes of Anal Fistula
  • Signs and Symptoms of Anal Fistula
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment of Anal Fistula
  • Diet for Fistula Patients

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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. 

Frequently asked Questions

How do I know that I have a fistula?

Some of the symptoms to look out for Anal Fistula are:

  • Pain and swelling in the anal region
  • Painful and straining bowel movements
  • Recurring anal abscess
  • Itching and discharge of pus
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Are there any home remedies I can try to cure fistulas?

There are home remedies that you can try to heal fistulas but this only cure the condition temporarily. Some of them are soaking in a warm bath, wearing a pad over your anal area, eating a high-fiber diet and drinking plenty of fluids.

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Is there any fistula treatment without surgery?

If a patient is diagnosed with stage 1 of Anal Fistula, his disease can be cured with fiber and nutrition-rich diet and drinking a lot of water. But, if the disease is diagnosed and to be treated in the later stages, the fistula can be cured permanently with laser surgery.

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How long it takes in fistula surgery recovery?

Unlike conventional open surgery which requires at least 1-2 months post-surgery rest, the laser fistula treatment ensures faster recovery. A person can resume his or her work just a few days after the operation.

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Is fistula curable by medicines?

Some medications such as antibiotics, ayurvedic herbal as well as homeopathic can control the infection but they can't assure to cure fistula permanently.

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Does abscess always become a fistula?

Well, the common answer is no. Since there is no accurate way to predict the future of an abscess. There is quite a high possibility of an abscess becoming into a fistula.

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What happens if the patient leaves a fistula untreated?

People with disorders related to bowels such as Crohn's disease and diverticulitis which are found to be very common, when left untreated can have a high risk of re-occurrence of fistula.

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When can the patient resume his normal routine after the fistula surgery?

After a rest of 15-18 hours after the surgery, the patient is discharged from the hospital in a healthy condition and with no pain. The patient can resume his normal daily routine after being discharged from the hospital. But, it is strictly advised to the patient to not sit for continuous hours and add a little physical activity to his daily routine.

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