Why Are Infected Hemorrhoids So Rare? | Minnesota

Have you ever noticed blood on the tissue after wiping too hard, or experienced bleeding due to hemorrhoids? Blood indicates the presence of a wound, fecal matter is obviously teeming with harmful bacteria, and most people in America do not use anything other than dry toilet paper to wipe. Yet, hemorrhoidal infections are incredibly rare, especially in healthy people.

Why is this?
First, it’s important to note the immune system is different in different parts of the body- the Immune system in the gut is very well adapted to prevent serious infection. Immune cells constantly “sample” bacteria in the gut and create antibodies that bind the proteins on surface of the bacteria which prevents them from passing through the epithelium (wall of cells lining the inside of the intestines). This keeps the bacteria inside the intestine and outside the body. This “scanning” of the bacteria is something unique to the gut; this does not occur on the skin or elsewhere.

After a small tear in the epithelium occurs, there is an immediate inflammatory/clotting response around the broken blood vessels. This prevents the bacteria from spreading deeper into the surrounding tissue. The bacteria that do make it past that are met with a strong response. The antibodies marking the bacteria are used by the immune cells to target them, and not enough bacteria makes it through to cause a severe infection. The particular antibody used, known as “IgA” is non-inflammatory, which is why there are no symptoms typically associated with infection (swelling, pain, itching, etc).

That said, this only applies to small tears and hemorrhoids- large tears and injuries increase the risk of infections. While rare, the risk of infection holds serious consequences and it is best not to delay treatment of hemorrhoids.

Although the infection of hemorrhoids is rare, anorectal abscess is relatively common. Anorectal abscess is a different disease from hemorrhoids, and it is the result of infection of anal glands in the lining of the anal canal. Most perirectal abscesses form from obstruction of the anal gland crypts.

Procedure Clinic can diagnose and treat both hemorrhoids and anal abscess at low cost and little down time.

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