ALERTS & COVID-19 UPDATES Learn more: COVID-19 Resources; COVID-19 Testing; Vaccine Info; Visitor Policy; Support Us

Lahey Health is now part of Beth Israel Lahey Health

by EBSCO Medical Review Board

Definition

Proctitis is inflammation of the lining of the end of the rectum.

Causes

Proctitis can have many causes, such as:

  • Trauma and injury to the area
  • Infection
  • Medical condition that causes inflammation in large intestine
  • Medical treatment
  • Poor blood flow to the area

Risk Factors

Factors that increase the risk of proctitis include:

  • Radiation therapy
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like herpes
  • Foodborne infections like salmonella
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn disease
  • Anal sex or use of objects

Symptoms

Proctitis may cause:

  • The need to pass stool when you do not have stool to pass
  • Passing blood or mucus
  • Pain when trying to pass stool
  • Rectal pain or fullness
  • Belly pain and cramping
  • Diarrhea or constipation

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. You may also be asked about your sexual activities. An exam will be done. A digital rectal exam will also be done. A diagnosis can be made based on the exam.

More tests may be needed to find a cause. This may include testing blood or a sample from the rectum or stool. The rectum and intestine may also need to be checked with:

Treatment

Treating the cause will allow the area to heal. Often this will cure proctitis.

Other treatment may help to ease symptoms. This may be needed while the area heals. It can also be helpful for proctitis caused by radiation therapy.

Medicine to treat proctitis may include:

  • Pain medicine
  • Anti-inflammatory medicine
  • Antidiarrheal medicine
  • Antibiotics or antiviral medicine to treat infections

Medicine may be a pill taken by mouth or cream used over the area.

Prevention

Take these steps to lower your chance of proctitis from an STI:

  • Use a condom during all sexual activity.
  • Do not have unprotected sex with people who have signs of an STI.
  • Have sex with only one person who does not have an infection.
  • Do not take part in unsafe behaviors, such as unprotected sex or sex with someone you do not know.

People with inflammatory bowel disease should follow their care plan. It may help stop you from getting problems that may lead to proctitis.

RESOURCES

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases  https://www.niddk.nih.gov 

National Organization for Rare Disorders  https://rarediseases.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Association of Gastroenterology  https://www.cag-acg.org 

Health Canada  https://www.canada.ca 

References

Proctitis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/anorectal-disorders/proctitis. Updated July 2018. Accessed June 27, 2019.

Proctitis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/proctitis. Accessed June 27, 2019.

Radiation proctitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:  https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T506598/Radiation-proctitis . Updated August 20, 2018. Accessed June 27, 2019.

Rosenfeld G, Enns R. Argon photocoagulation in the treatment of gastric antral vascular ectasia and radiation proctitis. Can J Gastroenterol. 2009 Dec;23(12):801-4.

Revision Information