Proctitis is an inflammation of the anus and the lining of the rectum, affecting only the last 6 inches of the rectum.
A common symptom is a continual urge to have a bowel movement—the rectum could feel full or have constipation. Another is tenderness and mild irritation in the rectum and anal region. A serious symptom is pus and blood in the discharge, accompanied by cramps and pain during the bowel movement. If there is severe bleeding, anemia can result, showing symptoms such as pale skin, irritability, weakness, dizziness, brittle nails, and shortness of breath.
Symptoms are ineffectual straining to empty the bowels, diarrhea, rectal bleeding and possible discharge, a feeling of not having adequately emptied the bowels, involuntary spasms and cramping during bowel movements, left-sided abdominal pain, passage of mucus through the rectum, and anorectal pain.
Gonorrhea (Gonococcal proctitis)
Chlamydia (chlamydia proctitis)
Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and 2 (herpes proctitis)
Syphilis (syphilitic proctitis)
Proctitis has many possible causes. It may occur idiopathically (idiopathic proctitis, that is, arising spontaneously or from an unknown cause). Other causes include damage by irradiation (for example in radiation therapy for cervical cancer and prostate cancer) or as a sexually transmitted infection, as in lymphogranuloma venereum and herpes proctitis. Studies suggest a celiac disease-associated "proctitis" can result from an intolerance to gluten.
Main article: Radiation proctitis
A common cause is engaging in anal sex with partner(s) infected with sexual transmitted diseases in men who have sex with men. Shared enema usage has been shown to facilitate the spread of Lymphogranuloma venereum proctitis.
Doctors can diagnose proctitis by looking inside the rectum with a proctoscope or a sigmoidoscope. A biopsy is taken, in which the doctor scrapes a tiny piece of tissue from the rectum, and this tissue is then examined by microscopy. The physician may also take a stool sample to test for infections or bacteria. If the physician suspects that the patient has Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, colonoscopy or barium enema X-rays are used to examine areas of the intestine.
Treatment for proctitis varies depending on severity and the cause. For example, the physician may prescribe antibiotics for proctitis caused by bacterial infection. If the proctitis is caused by Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, the physician may prescribe the drug 5-aminosalicyclic acid (5ASA) or corticosteroids applied directly to the area in enema or suppository form, or taken orally in pill form. Enema and suppository applications are usually more effective, but some patients may require a combination of oral and rectal applications.
Another treatment available is that of fiber supplements such as Metamucil. Taken daily these may restore regularity and reduce pain associated with proctitis.
Chronic radiation proctitis is usually treated first-line with sucralfate enemas. These are non-invasive and are effective in diffuse, distal disease. Other treatments may include mesalamine suppositories, vitamin E, hyperbaric oxygen, or short chain fatty acid enemas; however these treatments are only supported by observational or anecdotal evidence.