Piles, or haemorrhoids, are areas in the anal canal where the tissue has become swollen, they are very common and can occur at any age. The main symptoms are discomfort, a lump around the anus or bleeding per rectum.
An anal fissure can sometime be confused with piles because symptoms may be similar. It is a crack in the lining of the anal canal (the bottom of the back passage). This may occur at any age, but usually occurs in young adults. The symptoms of a fissure are pain (especially when opening your bowels) and some bleeding. Occasionally people experience discharge of an abscess in association with an anal fissure.
An anal fistula is a track between the skin on the outside of the buttock/anal area and the anal canal on the inside. There are many different types of fistulae, from relatively simple to a complex branching network of tracks. Some fistulae may involve the muscles responsible for bowel control. Each fistula is different.
Proctocolitis is an inflammation of the rectum and colon that can be caused by several different conditions, including infections, Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis. Symptoms include a fullness in the rectum, urgency, mucus or bleeding per rectum.
Pruritus ani (itchy bottom) is a common complaint which consists of itching of the skin around the anus. This can cause an irresistible urge to scratch and an itch-scratch cycle may develop which is difficult to stop and which leaves the skin area sore and painful.
Diverticular disease is a condition which affects your large bowel. This occurs when small pouches, known as diverticula, are pushed out through the wall of your large bowel. This is a common condition which affects up to half of the population of North America and Western Europe. If the diverticula become inflamed and infected, this may lead to a condition called diverticulitis.
IBS is a common condition of the digestive system. It can cause stomach pains, bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation. The symptoms vary between patients and can affect some people more severely than others. Symptoms tend to come and go and can be caused by eating certain foods or periods of stress.
The term FODMAP is an acronym that stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharide and polyols. These are a collection of simple and complex sugars found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, milk and wheat, that are poorly absorbed by the gut. After digestion of these food types, they pass through the small intestine unchanged and are fermented by colonic bacteria releasing gas or expelled together with fluid. In people with irritable bowel syndrome, these can exacerbate or cause symptoms of abdominal bloating, pain, flatus passage or diarrhoea. Identifying what foods contain FODMAPS and developing a dietary strategy to avoid them can be of benefit in patients with a sensitive gut.