Proctitis: Symptoms, Treatment


Proctitis refers to inflammation of the lining of the rectum, which is a muscular tube connected to the end of your colon. Stool passes through your rectum when you defecate. This condition can be either acute or chronic.


Proctitis may lead to the following

  • A frequent or continuous feeling that you need to have a bowel movement
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Passing mucus through your rectum
  • Rectal pain
  • Pain on the left side of your abdomen
  • A feeling of fullness in your rectum
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain with bowel movements
  • Constipation


If you are not able to treat proctitis
effectively in time, complications may occur, including:

  • Abscesses – painful, swollen, pus-filled areas caused by infection
  • Chronic or severe bleeding that can lead to anemia
  • Fistulas – an abnormal passage, or tunnel between two organs or
    between an organ and the outside of the body
  • Ulcers – an abnormal narrowing of your rectum
  • Rectal stricture – sores in the lining of the intestines


Many conditions may cause proctitis. They

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Infections
  • Injury to the anus or rectum
  • Radiation therapy for cancer
  • Certain antibiotics
  • Diversion proctitis
  • Food protein-induced proctitis
  • Eosinophilic proctitis


Your doctor may order the following tests
and procedures to make a diagnosis of proctitis:

  • Blood tests: to detect blood loss of infections
  • Stool test: to help determine whether the condition results from a bacterial infection
  • Scope exam of the last portion of your colon: to examine the last part of the colon and take a biopsy
  • Scope exam of your entire colon: to view the entire colon and take a biopsy
  • Tests for sexually transmitted infections: to obtain a sample of discharge from the rectum and the urethra for diagnosis


Treatment options for proctitis depend on
the exact cause of it.

Proctitis caused by an infection

If your proctitis is caused by an
infection, medications may be recommended, including:

  • Antibiotics

An antibiotic, such as doxycycline, will be used for bacterial infections.

  • Antivirals

An antiviral medication, such as acyclovir, will be used for viral infections.

Proctitis caused by radiation therapy

If the condition caused by radiation
therapy is mild, treatment is not necessary. But if serious symptoms show up,
you may need treatments such as:

  • Medications

Sucralfate (Carafate), mesalamine (Asacol HD, Canasa, others), sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) and metronidazole (Flagyl) may be used to treat your condition by controlling inflammation and reducing bleeding.

  • Stool softeners and dilation

This option can open up an obstruction in the bowel.

  • Treatment to destroy damaged tissue

You can also improve your symptoms with
treatment to destroy abnormal tissue (ablation) that is bleeding. Procedures
include argon plasma coagulation (APC), electrocoagulation and other therapies.

Proctitis caused by inflammatory bowel disease

The goal of treatment for proctitis caused
by inflammatory bowel disease is to reduce inflammation in the rectum.
Treatment options include:

  • Medications

In order to control rectal inflammation, your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications such as mesalamine or corticosteroids such as prednisone (Rayos) or budesonide (Entocort EC, Uceris). If you have Crohn’s disease, medications that suppress the immune system is often needed. They involve azathioprine (Azasan, Imuran) or infliximab (Remicade).

  • Surgery

If you can’t get relief by taking medications, you may need surgery to remove a damaged part of your digestive tract.

Proctitis caused by injury to anus or rectum

To treat this condition, you ought to stop
the activity contributing to the injury. Sometimes, your doctor may also
recommend antidiarrheal medicines and pain relievers. Generally, it can be
healed within 4 to 6 weeks.

Proctitis caused by certain antibiotics

If the use of certain antibiotics leads to the proctitis, your doctor will stop these antibiotics and prescribe a different one such as metronidazole (Flagyl), vancomycin (Vancocin), or fidaxomicin (Dificid).


You can lower your risk of proctitis by
protecting yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). To reduce the
risk of STIs, you should:

  • Limit your number of sex partners
  • Use a latex condom during each sexual contact
  • Do not have sex with anyone who has any unusual sores or discharge in the genital area

Keyword: proctitis.

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