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Proctitis – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

The rectum is the tube  connected to the end of your colon. Stool passes through the rectum and is excreted. Proctitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the inner lining of the rectum. Several factors cause the disease, including sexually transmitted infection.

What is proctitis?

Proctitis is an inflammatory disease that affects the lining of the rectum, which is a tube-like structure through which the stool passes. It is generally found in people suffering from inflammatory bowel disorders. Another cause could be sexually transmitted infections but it could also occur as an adverse effect of radiation therapy that is used to treat some cancers. Symptoms may vary greatly but most cases of proctitis causes mild symptoms

What are the symptoms of proctitis?

The symptoms associated with proctitis are:

  • Rectal bleeding and pain
  • Continuous feeling or need for a bowel movement
  • Passing of mucus through the rectum
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain associated with bowel movements
  • Pain commonly on the left side of the abdominal region

What are the causes of proctitis?

  • Bowel disease: Around 30% of people having inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis also have proctitis.
  • Cancer therapy: Radiation therapy used to treat cancer that is targeted directly at the rectum or nearby areas can lead to proctitis. It occurs either during the radiation treatment or can also develop many years after the radiation treatment gets over.
  • Infection: Infections caused mostly by sexually transmitted diseases can also lead to proctitis. Sexually transmitted infections are genital herpes, gonorrhea and chlamydia.
  • Antibiotics: Few broad-spectrum antibiotics used to treat infections can often kill harmful bacteria in the rectum. This in turn allows the growth of the bacteria, Clostridium difficile, in the rectum causing proctitis.
  • Diversion proctitis: Proctitis is often seen in people undergoing colon surgery where the passage of stool is diverted from the rectum to an opening that is created surgically.
  • Eosinophilic proctitis: This type of proctitis occurs when eosinophils, which are a type of white blood cells, build up in the lining of the rectum. Eosinophilic proctitis is common in children younger than two years.
  • Food protein-induced proctitis: This type of proctitis occurs in infants who drink either cow’s milk or soy-based formula. 

When do you need to see a doctor?

You must see a doctor if you have any of the aforementioned symptoms of proctitis.

Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

What are the complications associated with proctitis?

Proctitis that is untreated can often lead to several complications which are listed below.

  • Ulcers: Acute inflammation of the rectum can lead to the development of open sores or ulcers occurring in the inner part of the rectum.
  • Fistulas: Often, ulcers are found to erode through the wall of the intestine leading to fistula formation. A fistula is an unusual connection that occurs between various parts of the intestine, between intestine and skin or involving the intestine and other organs.
  • Anemia: Excessive bleeding from the rectum can lead to anemia. Severe anemia can in turn lead to dizziness, headache, shortness of breath, irritability, and pale skin.

How can you prevent proctitis?

Proctitis infections that are transmitted sexually can be prevented .Prevention from sexually transmitted diseases can occur by:

  • Limiting the number of sexual partners
  • Using protection
  • Avoiding sex with anyone who possesses abnormal sores or discharges in the genitals 

What are the treatment options for proctitis?

The treatment of proctitis is based on its causes. Options include:

Treatment of proctitis brought about by inflammatory bowel disease

  • Medications: Anti-inflammatory medications are prescribed by a doctor such as mesalamine or corticosteroids. Inflammation caused by autoimmune disorders is treated with infliximab or azathioprine.
  • Surgery: If the medications do not help in reducing the symptoms, surgery may be recommended by the doctor to remove a portion of the digestive tract.

Treatment of proctitis brought about by infections

  • Antibiotics: If the cause of infection is bacterial, then antibiotics, such as doxycycline, are prescribed by doctors.
  • Antivirals: If the cause of proctitis is a viral infection, then antivirals, such as acyclovir, are prescribed.

Treatment of proctitis brought about by radiation therapy

  • Medications: Medications such as mesalamine, sucralfate, sulfasalazine and metronidazole help reduce inflammation and bleeding.
  • Treatment to destroy damaged tissue: Argon plasma coagulation, electrocoagulation and other techniques for treating damaged tissues that are bleeding can improve the condition.
  • Stool softeners: These can help remove the obstruction in bowel movement.

Conclusion

It is a disease characterized by the inflammation of the rectal lining. The disease is most commonly associated with sexually transmitted infections but can be caused by other factors as well. The symptoms of the disease are most often acute. Proctitis can be diagnosed by various tests such as stool test, sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy. The treatment method varies, depending on the cause.

 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

What is the recovery period for proctitis?

Proctitis generally takes 4 to 6 weeks to heal in most cases.

What can trigger proctitis in humans?

Apart from the causes mentioned above, proctitis can also be caused by any damage to the anorectal region due to the insertion of objects or harmful substances to the rectum and a few chemicals.

Can proctitis lead to cancer?

Severe proctitis may take longer to heal, but proctitis is not associated with cancer of the rectum or colon.

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