Treatment for Proctitis

How do doctors treat proctitis?

Treatment of proctitis depends on its cause and the severity of your symptoms.

Proctitis caused by infection

If lab tests confirm that your proctitis is due to an infection, your doctor will prescribe medicine based on the type of infection. A doctor may prescribe

A male doctor sitting at desk writing a prescription for a male patient.
If lab tests confirm that your proctitis is due to an infection, your doctor will prescribe medicine based on the type of infection.

Proctitis caused by inflammatory bowel disease

When inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis causes proctitis, the goals of treatment are to decrease the inflammation in your intestines, prevent flare-ups of your symptoms, and keep you in remission. Your doctor may prescribe one of the following medicines:

Aminosalicylates. These medicines contain 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA), which helps control inflammation. Aminosalicylates include

Corticosteroids. Corticosteroids, also known as steroids, help reduce the activity of your immune system. Corticosteroids include

Immunomodulators. These medicines reduce immune system activity, resulting in less inflammation in your digestive tract. Immunomodulators include

Proctitis caused by radiation therapy

Doctors treat symptoms caused by radiation therapy in your pelvic area based on the severity of your symptoms. If you have mild symptoms, such as occasional bleeding or tenesmus, your proctitis may heal without treatment. Your doctor may prescribe medicines such as sucralfate (Carafate) or corticosteroid enemas to ease your pain and reduce symptoms.

Proctitis caused by injury to your anus or rectum

When injury to your anus or rectum is the cause of your proctitis, you should stop the activity causing the injury. Healing most often occurs in 4 to 6 weeks. Your doctor may recommend antidiarrheal medicines and pain relievers.

Proctitis caused by certain antibiotics

When the use of certain antibiotics results in Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infection and causes your proctitis, your doctor will stop the antibiotic that triggered the C. difficile infection. He or she will prescribe a different antibiotic such as metronidazole (Flagyl), vancomycin (Vancocin), or fidaxomicin (Dificid).

How can I prevent proctitis?

Doctors don’t know how to prevent all types of proctitis. To prevent STD-related proctitis you should

  • use a condom during anal sex
  • don’t have sex with anyone who has any symptoms of an STD, such as pain or burning sensation during urination or discharge from the penis
  • reduce your number of sex partners

If injury to your anus or rectum caused your proctitis, stopping the activity that caused the injury often will stop the inflammation and keep proctitis from coming back.

How do doctors treat the complications of proctitis?

If you have continual or severe bleeding, your doctor may use colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy to perform procedures that destroy rectal tissues to stop the bleeding. These procedures include

  • thermal therapy, which uses a heat probe, an electric current, or a laser
  • cryoablation, which uses extremely cold temperatures

A surgeon may perform surgery to treat other complications of proctitis, such as abscesses, fistulas, rectal stricture, and ulcers in your intestine. Your doctor may recommend surgery to remove your rectum when other medical treatments fail, the side effects of medicines threaten your health, or your complications are severe.

August 2016
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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 through its clearinghouses and education programs 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.