Proctitis is an inflammation of the lining of the rectum. The rectum is a muscular tube that’s connected to the end of your colon. Stool passes through the rectum on its way out of the body.
Proctitis can cause rectal pain and the continuous sensation that you need to have a bowel movement. Proctitis symptoms can be short-lived, or they can become chronic.
Proctitis is common in people who have inflammatory bowel diseases. Sexually transmitted infections are another frequent cause. Proctitis also can be a side effect of radiation therapy for certain cancers.
Several diseases and conditions can cause the lining of the rectum to become inflamed (proctitis). They include:
- Inflammatory bowel diseases. About 30 percent of people with inflammatory bowel disease have inflammation of the rectum.
- Infections. Sexually transmitted infections, spread particularly by people who engage in anal intercourse, can result in proctitis. Sexually transmitted infections that can cause proctitis include gonorrhea, genital herpes and chlamydia. Infections associated with foodborne illness, such as salmonella, shigella and campylobacter infections, can also induce proctitis.
- Radiation therapy for cancer. Radiation therapy directed at your rectum or nearby areas can cause irritation of the lining of your rectum. Radiation proctitis can begin during radiation treatment and last for a few months after treatment. Or it can occur years after treatment.
- Antibiotics used to treat an infection can sometimes kill helpful bacteria in the bowels, allowing the harmful Clostridium difficile bacteria to gain a foothold in the rectum.
- Proctitis in children. Proctitis sometimes occurs in breast-fed children and in children who have strep throat. A form of proctitis caused by accumulation of a kind of white blood cell (eosinophil) in the lining of the rectum affects only children younger than 2.
Proctitis signs and symptoms may include:
- Frequent or continuous sensation that you need to have a bowel movement (tenesmus)
- Rectal bleeding
- The passing of mucus through your rectum
- Rectal pain
- Pain on the left side of your abdomen
- A feeling of fullness in your rectum
- Pain with bowel movements
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.