What is fistula? How is it caused?

Fistulas can either be obstetric or anal and both are painful. Of the two, obstetric fistula, which affects pregnant women, is more damaging and dangerous as it is considered to be the most serious of all injuries that women endure during childbirth. A woman suffering from obstetric fistula develops a hole between her vagina and rectum or bladder after enduring prolonged pain and difficulty of going through the obstructed labor.

The Incontinent State

This leaves her in an incontinent state wherein urine or feces or both freely exits through her abdominal cavities. Fistulas are also classified as gastrointestinal fistula which is basically an opening in the digestive tract that results in gastric fluids seeping through the intestines.

The anal fistula is an infected cavity formed by the blockage of one or more glands in the rectum. Not all of these cavities become fistulas; about half of the cases of blocked glands in the rectum grow into fistulas. Anal fistulas are generally caused by an abscess in the anus although some are also caused by sexually transmitted diseases, trauma, tuberculosis, and cancer.

Common Symptoms

The typical symptoms of anal fistula are pain and swelling in and around the anus as well as bowel movements, bleeding, foul-smelling pus discharge that normally reduces the pain, fever, and fatigue. In addition to that, there is also irritation around the anus.

Speaking of gastrointestinal fistula, there are quite a few types that occur to people. As already mentioned, the intestinal fistula causes leaks in the intestines; then there is the extra-intestinal fistula which is the next stage after a person is affected by intestinal fistula. The extra-intestinal fistula occurs when the fluids leaking from the intestines reach the other organs of the body such as bladder, lungs and vascular system.

The External Fistula

When more than one organ is affected it is classified as external fistula. Above all this, there is the external fistula wherein the gastric fluid leaks through the skin which means the fistula has affected the skin too.