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Definition & Facts

Proctitis is inflammation of the lining of the rectum. Proctitis may be acute or chronic. Anal sex, inflammatory bowel disease, or radiation therapy to your pelvic area or abdomen may cause proctitis. If not treated, proctitis may have complications.

Doctor sitting with male patient

Symptoms & Causes

The most common symptom of proctitis is tenesmus—an uncomfortable, frequent urge to have a bowel movement. Causes of proctitis include infections, inflammatory bowel disease, and radiation therapy.


Your doctor diagnoses proctitis based on your medical history, a physical exam, lab test results, and medical procedures. Your doctor can diagnose some causes of proctitis, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, with medical procedures.


Treatment of proctitis depends on its cause and the severity of your symptoms and often includes medicines. Some causes of proctitis, such as infection or rectal injury, can be prevented. Doctors treat complications of proctitis with medical procedures.

Eating, Diet, & Nutrition

Depending on the cause of your proctitis, changing your diet can help reduce symptoms. Eating high-fiber foods may prevent constipation. Avoiding certain foods may prevent diarrhea from getting worse. Talk with your doctor before changing your diet.

Clinical Trials

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and other components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conduct and support research into many diseases and conditions.

Related Diagnostic Tests

Related Conditions & Diseases

Your Digestive System & How it Works

The digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract-also called the digestive tract-and the liver, pancreas, and the gallbladder. The GI tract is a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus.

Related Research

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.