What Is Proctitis?
Proctitis is a condition in which when the lining tissue of the
inner rectum becomes inflamed. The rectum is part of your lower digestive system.
It’s located between your colon and anus. Stool passes through the rectum as it
exits the body.
Proctitis can be painful and uncomfortable. You may feel a
constant urge to defecate. The condition is usually treated with medications
and lifestyle adjustments. Surgery is not generally necessary, except in the
most severe, recurring cases.
What Causes Proctitis?
Proctitis is usually caused by underlying medical conditions.
- sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as
Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis
- anal trauma, such as form vigorous anal sex
- infections that aren’t sexually transmitted,
such as bacterial infections like salmonella and shigella
- rectal infections that occur after
antibiotic use, such as from the bacteria Clostridium difficile
- radiation treatments for ovarian, rectal, or
percent of people who have inflammatory bowel disease also have proctitis
at some point. Anal trauma can include injuries caused by the use of enemas or
The most common symptom of proctitis is called tenesmus. Tenesmus is a frequent urge to
have a bowel movement. Inflammation and irritation of the rectum and rectal
lining cause tenesmus.
Other symptoms of proctitis include:
- pain in your rectum, anus, and abdominal region
- bleeding from the rectum
- passing of mucus from the rectum
- very loose stools
- watery diarrhea
Treatment Options for Proctitis
The goals of proctitis treatment are to reduce inflammation,
control pain, and treat infection. Specific treatments depend on the cause of
proctitis. Managing underlying conditions helps to relieve symptoms.
Medications may be used to treat STIs or clear up symptoms. Surgery may be
needed if you have ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
Several types of medication are used to treat proctitis:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs,
such as corticosteroids, reduce inflammation and provide pain relief.
and antifungals clear up STIs and other infections.
- Immunosuppressants treat
symptoms of Crohn’s disease and other autoimmune diseases.
Your doctor will prescribe medication based on the symptoms of
your proctitis and its underlying cause. Medications may be taken orally,
applied topically, or delivered by an enema. With an enema, treatment is placed
directly into the rectum.
You may also be told to take sitz baths. A sitz bath delivers warm water to
the inflamed area and can provide relief. Home health supply stores sell sitz
bath pans. These fit over the toilet bowl.
You may eventually need surgery if you have ulcerative colitis or
Crohn’s disease and frequent cases of proctitis. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s
disease are two autoimmune diseases that affect your digestive tract.
Inflammation and sores in the digestive tract can cause severe
pain, malnutrition, and weight loss. In some cases, removing the damaged area
is the only effective treatment.
Lifestyle Adjustments to Relieve Proctitis
There are some simple lifestyle changes you can make that may help
relieve proctitis pain.
A soft, bland diet can reduce proctitis pain. Avoid spicy,
acidic, or fatty foods during bouts of diarrhea.
You may be intolerant to lactose. Try cutting down on dairy
products and switching to alternative forms of milk.
Drink plenty of fluids, but avoid drinking caffeinated sodas,
coffees, and teas. Drinking eases the passage of stool. It also helps prevents
dehydration from frequent, loose stools. Caffeine can irritate your digestive
Track Your Symptoms
Pay attention to the timing of your symptoms. Keeping track of
when your symptoms occur can help you narrow down any triggers for proctitis
pain. For example, if you notice that your symptoms are worse after you eat
dairy products, you can try switching to lactose-free milk or soymilk.
Use a Condom
Use a condom during anal sex. This reduces your risk of
contracting an STI that can affect your rectum and cause proctitis.
Complications and Outlook
Most cases of proctitis are treated successfully with medication
and lifestyle changes. In rare cases, proctitis can lead to complications. Possible
which are open sores that develop in the rectum and colon
which are pus-filled areas of infection
which is a deficiency of red blood cells caused by rectal bleeding
You can prevent complications by reporting all symptoms to your
doctor as soon as possible. The earlier your proctitis is treated, the better your
chances are of a full recovery.