What are the signs of anal problems?
Anal symptoms are symptoms of disorders that affect the anus and the anal area. Anal symptoms can be worrisome, but the vast majority are benign (not harmful) and are very treatable. Depending on the cause of the anal symptoms, you may experience bleeding, burning, discharge, itching, lumps, pain, or difficulty with bowel movements.
Anal symptoms are often mistakenly attributed to a single cause, hemorrhoids, which are enlarged, bulging veins in the anus or rectum. However, anal symptoms also can be related to other common anal diseases and disorders, including anal fissures, anal inflammation or infection, rectal tumors or inflammation, and skin tags.
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More serious causes of anal symptoms include anal or rectal cancer,
inflammatory bowel disease, fecal incontinence, rectal prolapse and
sexually transmitted diseases (also known as STDs). For example, anal
warts are caused by the human papilloma virus, a contagious virus that
can be transmitted from person to person. Sexually transmitted disease
of the anus can occur in people who engage in receptive anal
Most people are naturally hesitant to report symptoms of anal discomfort, but talking openly with your health care provider about your symptoms is the best way to get prompt treatment and relief.
Treatment for anal symptoms will vary depending on the underlying cause. Many anal symptoms, such as those related to hemorrhoids or anal fissure, will resolve with self-care measures. Your health care provider will determine the best treatment for more serious anal diseases and disorders.
Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have anal symptoms along with other serious symptoms including bloody stools, high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), the inability to pass stool, or large lumps or masses in the anal or rectal area.
Seek prompt medical care if your anal symptoms persist, recur, or cause you concern.
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- Anal fissure. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002116/.
- Anal cancer. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/analcancer.html.
- Rectal problems in women. American College of Gastroenterology. http://www.acg.gi.org/patients/women/rectal.asp.
- Kahan S, Miller R, Smith EG (Eds.). In A Page Signs & Symptoms, 2d ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Williams, 2009.