Anal Abscess & Fistula Facts
A patient who feels ill and complains of chills, fever, and pain in the rectum or anus could be suffering from an anal abscess or fistula. These medical terms describe common ailments about which many people know little.
What is an Anal Abscess?
An anal abscess is an infected cavity filled with pus found near the anus or rectum.
What is an Anal Fistula?
An anal fistula, almost always the result of a previous abscess, is a small tunnel connecting the anal gland from which the abscess arose to the skin of the buttocks outside the anus.
What Causes an Abscess?
An abscess results from an acute infection of a small gland just inside the anus, when bacteria or foreign matter enters the tissue through the gland. Certain conditions – colitis or other inflammation of the intestine, for example – can sometimes make these infections more likely.
Painful swelling in the anal area is often thought to be a hemorrhoid but can be an abscess. It is essential to seek medical care to have the area examined so you can be placed on the best treatment.
What Causes a Fistula?
After an abscess has been drained, a tunnel may persist, connecting the anal gland from which the abscess arose to the skin. If this occurs, persistent drainage from the outside opening may indicate the persistence of this tunnel. If the external opening of the tunnel heals, recurrent abscess may develop.
What are the Symptoms of an Abscess or Fistula?
Symptoms of both ailments include constant pain, sometimes accompanied by swelling, that is not necessarily related to bowel movements. Other symptoms include irritation of the skin around the anus, drainage of pus (which often relieves the pain), fever, and feeling poorly in general.