Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by theworldofsleepstaff
Medically, fissures are usually associated with the anus and other related parts. Anal fissures in particular are tears in the skin surrounding the anus.
Anal fissures are fairly common. They affect 1 in every 10 people and 1 in 350 adults at one point or the other in their lives. They are, however, most common in infants and middle-aged adults. Fissures don’t generally pose a serious medical condition. However, living with one can be a painful, uncomfortable experience and will usually call for changes in lifestyle and eating habits.
Hemorrhoids often get confused with anal fissures as they both have similar symptoms. However they are not the same thing. Rather, hemorrhoids are vascular structures in the human body found in the anal canal that become inflamed and painful.
Regardless of which is causing you suffering, sleeping with either a fissure or a haemorrhoid can be a particularly frustrating experience. Especially because using the wrong sleeping position for a fissure can actually worsen the pain, create discomfort, and slow down healing.
Fortunately, there are proven ways to help, and there’s even a preferred sleeping position for a fissure or haemorrhoid which can help minimize pain and achieve maximum comfort.
Read on to learn more about those sleeping positions and everything else you need to know. Including six steps you can take before bedtime that will help you get a better sleep if you’re suffering from fissures or haemorrhoids.
Although we share tips here, as always, you must consult your doctor and ask their opinion about what is right for you, as every individual case differs.
But First: What is an Anal Fissure?
An anal fissure is a small cut or tear in the tissue that lines the anus. Almost everyone has gotten them at least one point or the other in their lives. They are usually caused by passing large or hard stools, which stretch the anal lining beyond its capability.
Anal fissures are typically accompanied by pain, discomfort, and bleeding during bowel movements. Occasionally, spasms in the anal sphincter may also be experienced. Anal fissures are usually not serious and can be treated with simple medication and lifestyle changes such as a sitz bath or increasing your fiber intake.
Fissures can be superficial – just like a paper cut – but if care is not taken, they can become deep and take longer to heal. When the fissure becomes deep and refuses to heal, they can develop into ulcers and there’s the risk of getting infected by fecal bacteria (bacteria that is present in excrement).
Anal fissures can also be symptoms of other related health conditions such as piles or hemorrhoids.
So What’s The Difference Between Anal Fissures and Hemorrhoids?
Given that they both have similar symptoms, it is not surprising that people often confuse anal fissures with hemorrhoids.
However hemorrhoids are vascular structures in the human body found in the anal canal.
When these structures become inflamed, they become the disease. Hemorrhoids are the unqualified but common term for this condition. It is medically called piles.
Hemorrhoids also cause pain and bleeding. There are two types. Internal hemorrhoids are usually painless and can be recognized by bleeding during defecation. External hemorrhoids are recognized by pain and swelling around the anus.
Ultimately, it is difficult for a layman to differentiate between the two conditions adequately. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms and want to be sure which condition it is, it would be best to consult a medical doctor.
How to Sleep with Fissures or Hemorrhoids: Six Steps That Will Help
Anal fissures or hemorrhoids can be painful and cause a lot of discomfort. And if you don’t know the best sleeping position for a fissure or hemorrhoid you may actually make things worse while also losing sleep – something you definitely do not want to do.
After all, you don’t want to be battling discomfort and also be losing sleep at the same time. Sleep that can provide you with much-needed reprieve from the pain, and the best opportunity for your body to heal.
Below are six important sleeping habits you should put in place so you don’t worsen your symptoms and slow down healing.
1. Don’t Sleep in a Position That Puts Pressure On Your Anus
You should generally avoid sleeping in a position that puts pressure on your anus. That means that you must not sleep on your back.
More specifically, the best sleeping position for a fissure or hemorrhoid is on your side. We will explain more about why that’s the case in the next section.
2. Sleep in Comfortable Clothing
You should avoid sleeping in tight or uncomfortable materials that may irritate your skin and prevent it from getting enough air and space to heal.
It would be best if you also avoided clothes that may touch the fissure or hemorrhoid.
3. Sleep on a Soft Mattress
Sleep on a soft surface or mattress. Your body needs all the pampering it can get to foster faster healing, so make sure you avoid sleeping on hard surfaces.
4. Avoid Spicy Meals and Caffeine in General & Before Bed
Pepper contains an ingredient called capsaicin. Capsaicin usually passes through the digestive system intact, so chances are that the compound will still be present in your feces during defecation.
This can irritate the fissure or the sore and also induce frequent defecation – something you don’t want to be doing in order to give your tissues time to heal and repair themselves properly.
That also goes for oily meals and caffeine.
5. Apply Soothing Creams
After your bath, you can apply soothing topical creams to help reduce irritation and numb any pain. Creams with aloe vera or witch hazel are particularly effective.
6. Take Sitz Baths Regularly As Well As Before Bed
Sitz baths are one of the best cleaning treatments for treating and relieving pain around the rectum or anus. When dealing with a fissure or hemorrhoids, taking sitz baths regularly – at least three times a day – will help provide relief and keep the area clean.
Apart from providing pain relief, taking a warm sitz bath before bed will cause your body to relax and leave it primed for sleep.
The Best Sleeping Position For A Fissure Or Hemorrhoid
As stated earlier, the best sleeping position for a fissure or hemorrhoid is one that does not put pressure on your anus. This leaves you with two options: sleeping on your stomach or side.
However the reality is the best sleeping position for a fissure is sleeping on your side.
This position will reduce pressure on your back and spinal cord. Whereas sleeping on your stomach will put pressure on your back and could cause back aches, creating another source of pain.
Putting a pillow between your legs to support your body while sleeping on your side will also help make things more comfortable.
Causes of Anal Fissures and Hemorrhoids
Various factors can cause these issues. Some of them are listed below.
1. Passing of Hard or Large Stools
This is the most common cause of anal fissures. It occurs when the waste to be excreted from the body is hard and large, causing the mucosal lining of the anus to extend beyond its normal capability, leading to a tear.
Anal fissures caused by this are usually superficial and can be prevented by increasing your fiber intake to facilitate the easier passage of stool. Using drugs for constipation or diarrhea medication can also reduce the occurrence of anal fissures, as prolonged defecation can also cause it.
2. Spasming of Anal Sphincter
This is the most common cause of non-healing anal fissures.
When the anal sphincter (the ring of muscle in the anus) continuously spams, it can cut off blood supply to the anal mucosa, leading to an open sore that may become infected.
3. Health Conditions
Chronic health conditions like tuberculosis, carcinoma, or AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) can also cause anal fissures. However, these fissures are usually lateral.
STDs like human papillomavirus (HPV), syphilis, or herpes that affect the rectum can cause tissue around the sexual organs to break down, causing a fissure.
5. Other Conditions
- Poor sanitary hygiene, especially in infants and children.
- Conditions like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.
- Childbirth trauma in people with wombs.
Symptoms of Fissures and Other Related Conditions
Fissures or hemorrhoids are usually accompanied by symptoms such as:
- Pain around the anus, especially if it is exaggerated when defecation.
- Bleeding during defecation.
- Visible tear or cut around the anus.
Treatment of Anal Fissures
Superficial anal fissures should heal within 2-6 weeks with the normal treatment of medication, creams, and sitz baths. Topical creams containing hydrocortisone may help with inflammation.
If the fissures last longer than 6 weeks, this is an indication that they might be chronic and may therefore require surgery.
Other Helpful Tips to Manage Fissure or Haemorrhoids
1. Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Incorporating healthy lifestyle habits can help treat, manage and prevent fissures and hemorrhoids. Such as:
- Drink plenty of water and always stay hydrated.
- Exercise every day for at least 30 minutes. A brisk walk or jog will do.
- Add a lot of fiber to your diet.
2. Use Your Medication
If you’ve been prescribed some medication for the fissures by your doctor, ensure you stick to the regimen and take them when due.
3. Fiber Supplements
Use fiber supplements to soften stools to ease their passage.
4. Use Lubrication
Lubricating your anal canal with petroleum jelly can help prevent further tears.
5. Avoid Alcoholic Wipes
This is important as they may further irritate the fissure. Use gentle toilet wipes instead.
6. Don’t Stay On the Toilet Long
Don’t let your phone or morning paper keep you on the toilet seat after you’re done. Immediately after you’re done with your business, stand up to prevent your blood vessels from increasing.
Complications From Living With Anal Fissures
Living with anal fissures or hemorrhoids isn’t a death sentence. It can, however, lead to some uncomfortable complications such as:
- Difficulty passing stool
- Pain and discomfort
- Reduced quality of life
- Gassing and uncontrolled bowel movements
The Best Sleeping Position for a Fissure or Hemorrhoid: Our Final Thoughts
Having fissures or hemorrhoids can be a very painful experience. However, with a few lifestyle changes, you can adequately manage, treat and prevent them.
Asides from making the necessary lifestyle changes to cope with them, your sleeping habits and positions are equally important as they can either worsen the symptoms or ease them. The sleeping tips we’ve compiled in this article are effective and are guaranteed to make you enjoy your sleep even with your condition. Use those tips to help the healing process, while make sure you remember every night that the best sleeping position for fissures is on your side.
Before starting any medication for fissures or hemorrhoids, it is important that you consult with your medical advisor to make informed and wise decisions.