Signs of an Abscess and what Having One Means

A series of anal glands runs along your rectum and anus. The function of anal glands is well known in most animals: The glands produce and release powerful, scented oils that mark territory and help the animals identify one another. Researchers aren’t quite certain why human still have anal glands.

But just as the anal glands in dogs sometimes get clogged and infected, the same can happen in humans. If your anal gland is infected and filled with pus, you have an abscess. You can develop an abscess anywhere around or inside your anus or rectum.  

The expert team at Colon and Rectal Surgeons of Greater Hartford diagnoses and treats anal and perianal abscesses in the safety and comfort of their Bloomfield, South Windsor, and Plainville, Connecticut offices. Here they provide a few tips on how to determine if you have an abscess, and why treating it is so important for your health.

Anal discomfort isn’t normal

Your anus and rectum should move your bowels easily and painlessly. If you experience any kind of pain or discomfort either while you’re defecating or between trips to the bathroom, you should get an evaluation from a colorectal expert.

Abscesses are most common in the anal region, close to the area where feces exit your body. However, they can also occur higher in the anal canal, near the lower colon and other pelvic organs. You may develop multiple abscesses simultaneously.

Normally, the anal glands drain fluid through ducts. If the glands get clogged and the fluid backs up, it traps bacteria, and you can develop an infection. Interestingly, more than half of anal abscesses occur between the ages of 20 and 40 years, and more often in men. 

Unlike hemorrhoids, which may not cause any pain, abscesses can be excruciatingly painful. Symptoms and signs of an abscess include:

If you’ve had these symptoms more than once, your abscess may have developed a complication called a fistula. A fistula is a tunnel that runs from the infected gland to the outside of your body. 

Why you have an abscess

It’s not always clear why some people develop abscesses and others don’t. However, risk factors for anal and perianal abscesses include:

If you have IBD or Crohn’s disease, it’s extra important to pay attention to anal discomfort.  

Abscesses get worse

If you suspect you have an abscess, call us as soon as possible for an evaluation. Abscesses frequently develop into fistulas. The infection from the abscess can also spread to other parts of your body, possibly causing a dangerous systemic infection.

You shouldn’t simply hope that the abscess will heal on its own or waste time trying cures you’ve found on the internet. The best way to heal an abscess is to have a colorectal expert surgically drain the infected pus. 

Treating an abscess

Though having an abscess may be painful or even embarrassing, treatment is easy. Treating an abscess as soon as you notice symptoms reduces your risk for developing a fistula, which requires surgery to close.

When you come to Colon and Rectal Surgeons of Greater Hartford for abscess draining, you only need a local anesthetic. Your surgeon simply drains the pus so the abscess can heal. However, if your abscess is located deep in your anal canal, your doctor may recommend a hospital procedure instead.

If you think you have an abscess, or if you have anal pain, contact the experts at Colon and Rectal Surgeons of Greater Hartford today. Call the office nearest you or use the online form.

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