Proctitis

Proctitis is inflammation of the lining of the rectum, called the rectal mucosa. Proctitis can be short term (acute) or long term (chronic). Proctitis has many causes. It may be a side effect of medical treatments like radiation therapy or antibiotics. Diseases like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and sexually transmitted diseases may also cause proctitis. Other causes include rectal injury, bacterial infection, allergies, and malfunction of the nerves in the rectum.

Symptoms include constipation, a feeling of rectal fullness, left-sided abdominal pain, passage of mucus through the rectum, rectal bleeding, and anorectal pain.

Physicians diagnose proctitis by looking inside the rectum with a proctoscope or a sigmoidoscope. A tiny piece of tissue from the rectum may be removed and tested for a bacterium, fungus, or virus.

Treatment depends on the cause of proctitis. For example, the physician may prescribe antibiotics for proctitis caused by bacterial infection. If the inflammation is caused by Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, the physician may recommend the drug 5-aminosalicyclic acid (5ASA), or corticosteroids applied directly to the area or taken in pill form.

Additional Information on Proctitis
The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse collects resource information on digestive diseases for the Combined Health Information Database (CHID). CHID is a database produced by health-related agencies of the Federal Government. The CHID database located on the World Wide Web at http://chid.nih.gov/simple/simple.php, provides titles, abstracts, and availability information for health information and health education resources. See the results of our CHID research on “Proctitis,” June 16, 2004.