Infections associated with foodborne illness, such as Salmonella, Shigella, and Campylobacter infections, can also cause proctitis.
Children with strep throat may sometimes get proctitis. They may infect the skin around their anus while cleaning the area after using the toilet or by scratching with hands that have strep bacteria from their mouth or nose. The bacteria may cause inflammation of the anus. Strep bacteria that get into the rectum may cause proctitis.
If you have had radiation therapy in your pelvic area or lower abdomen due to certain cancers, you may develop a condition that is similar to proctitis, called radiation proctopathy or radiation proctitis. This condition is different because the intestinal lining does not become inflamed. Up to 75 percent of patients develop radiation proctitis following pelvic radiation therapy.2
Injury to the anus or rectum
Injury to your anus or rectum from anal sex or from putting objects or substances—including enemas—into your anus or rectum can cause proctitis.
Use of certain antibiotics can lead to an infection that can cause proctitis in some people. Antibiotics are medicines that kill bacteria. Even though antibiotics are meant to kill infection-causing bacteria, some antibiotics can kill good bacteria that normally live in your digestive tract. The loss of good bacteria may let a harmful bacterium called Clostridium difficile, or C. difficile, grow in the colon and rectum. C. difficile causes proctitis when it infects the lining of the rectum. Antibiotics that can kill good bacteria, leading to C. difficile infection, include
What tests and procedures do doctors use to diagnose proctitis?
Your doctor may perform one or more of the following lab tests to diagnose proctitis.
blood test. A health care professional may take a blood sample of your blood and send the sample to a lab to test. A blood test can show signs of certain conditions and diseases that can cause proctitis, such as STDs and other infections.
rectal culture. A rectal culture can show signs of infections that cause proctitis.
stool test. A stool test can show signs of bleeding from the rectum and signs of infections that cause proctitis.
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 corticosteroidenemas 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.
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.
Eating, Diet, & Nutrition
How can my diet help reduce symptoms of proctitis?
Depending on the cause of your proctitis, changing your diet can help reduce symptoms.
Your doctor may recommend that you eat more foods that are high in fiber. Eating foods that are high in fiber can make stools softer and easier to pass and can help prevent constipation. A doctor or dietitian can help you learn how to add more high-fiber foods to your diet.
If your proctitis is caused by ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, a high-fiber diet may make symptoms worse. If you have ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, talk with your doctor about what foods are right for you.
If you have diarrhea, you may need to avoid certain foods that can make diarrhea worse:
fructose, a sugar found in fruits, fruit juices, and honey and added to many foods and soft drinks as a sweetener called high-fructose corn syrup
lactose, a sugar found in milk and milk products
sugar alcohols, sweeteners used in food products that are labeled “sugar-free”
Talk with your doctor before changing your diet.
Your doctor may recommend nutritional supplements or vitamins that can help reduce some proctitis symptoms:
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.
What are clinical trials and are they right for you?
Clinical trials are part of clinical research and at the heart of all medical advances. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat disease. Researchers also use clinical trials to look at other aspects of care, such as improving the quality of life for people with chronic illnesses. Find out if clinical trials are right for you.
Watch a video of NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers explaining the importance of participating in clinical trials.
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.