Proctitis is an inflammation of the lining of the rectum, the end of the large intestine where stool passes through. It causes pain, soreness, bleeding, and a discharge of mucus or pus. It can also make you feel like you need to have a bowel movement all the time.
Proctitis can last a long (chronic) or a short (acute) amount of time. When the inflammation spreads beyond the rectum, the condition is often called proctocolitis.
Your doctor can usually treat proctitis successfully. Treatment depends on what's causing the inflammation. Sometimes proctitis can be treated the same way as inflammatory bowel disease, a condition where the lining of other parts of the digestive tract get inflamed.
Signs and Symptoms
Common symptoms of proctitis include:
A number of conditions can cause proctitis. Sexually transmitted infections are the most common:
Someone is more likely to get proctitis if they:
You can take several steps to prevent proctitis:
You can usually treat proctitis with a combination of conventional and complementary therapies. The specific treatment depends on what's causing the proctitis. For example, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics for a bacterial infection. If the inflammation is caused by Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids or other medications.
In addition to these conventional treatments, acupuncture, herbs, and nutritional supplements may also help relieve the symptoms of proctitis.
The type of medication your doctor prescribes depends on the cause of your proctitis.
Surgery and Other Procedures
In more severe cases of proctitis from radiation therapy, ablation therapy may be used to destroy bleeding tissue. Laser therapy uses a laser to cauterize the tissue, while argon plasma coagulation uses argon gas.
Nutrition and Dietary Supplements
A comprehensive treatment plan for proctitis may include complementary and alternative therapies. Ask your team of health care providers about how to bring these therapies into your treatment plan. Always tell your health care provider about the herbs and supplements you are using or considering using.
These tips can keep you in good health overall:
These nutritional supplements may help with some symptoms of proctitis:
Herbs may strengthen and tone the body's systems. As with any therapy, you should work with your health care provider before starting any treatment. You may use herbs as dried extracts (capsules, powders, and teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, you should make teas with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 - 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 - 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 - 4 cups per day. You may use tinctures alone or in combination as noted.
Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) protects irritated tissues and helps them heal. It may help soothe the digestive tract. It is available as a pill or a powder. Slippery elm may interact with other medications, so ask your doctor before taking it.
Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) soothes mucous membranes like those found in the digestive tract. You can drink it as a tea. Avoid marshmallow if you have diabetes. Marshmallow can interact with some medications, including lithium.
Garlic (Allium sativum), standardized extract, 400 mg two to three times daily, for antibacterial or antifungal and immune activity. Garlic may interact with many medications, including some taken to treat HIV. It also can increase the risk of bleeding. Talk to your doctor before taking garlic if you also take blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, or if you have a clotting disorder.
Boswellia (Boswellia serrata, 1,200 mg three times per day for up to 8 weeks) has anti-inflammatory properties. A few small studies suggest that it may help in treating inflammatory bowel disease. It hasn't been studied specifically for proctitis. Boswellia may interact with several other drugs and supplements, so talk to your doctor before taking it.
While no scientific studies have examined the use of homeopathy to prevent or treat proctitis, professional homeopaths may recommend the following remedies for people with symptoms of the disease:
Homeopathic creams for problems in the anal area, such as itching and dryness, may help relieve proctitis symptoms. Ask your health care provider for more information.
One study of 44 people with proctitis caused by radiation therapy found that acupuncture "cured" 73% of the participants, "markedly" relieved symptoms in 9%, and reduced symptoms to "moderate" in 18%. None of the people in the study said their symptoms got worse or stayed the same following acupuncture treatment. Better studies are needed to know if acupuncture can really help proctitis.
Although research suggests that stress may be linked with inflammatory bowel disease, scientists aren't sure exactly how. Some researchers believe that psychotherapy along with these stress-reduction techniques may help relieve symptoms of proctitis:
If you have proctitis, keep these things in mind:
Prognosis and Complications
Complications can range from ulcers and boils to severe bleeding. Proctitis related to ulcerative colitis may spread to more areas of the colon and other parts of the digestive tract.
Mild forms of proctitis, which often go away on their own or by using creams and foams, don’t need long-term medication. People with more severe forms of proctitis, such as proctitis caused by gonorrhea, often don't respond as well to treatment. In general, the prognosis for people with most forms of proctitis is good with proper treatment and follow-up with a doctor.
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Review Date: 12/28/2012
Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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