When to Seek Medical Care for Proctitis
If you have any proctitis symptoms -- especially if you have a history of high-risk sexual behavior that may lead to proctitis -- you should contact your health care provider to be checked. Other minor conditions such as hemorrhoids also can cause similar symptoms. Your doctor can tell the difference and provide the right treatment.
If you have bleeding and mucus in a bowel movement, severe pain, and diarrhea, seek immediate treatment. Complications such as severe bleeding and anemia need immediate medical attention. As a result of diarrhea, you also may be dehydrated. Symptoms indicating severe disease include weakness, dizziness, irritability, shortness of breath, and headaches.
Exams and Tests for Proctitis
The diagnosis of proctitis is based on the suspected cause.
- Your health care provider will take a thorough medical history to determine your sexual practices and if you have any high-risk behaviors.
- Most cases of suspected proctitis require a procedure called a proctosigmoidoscopy. A lighted tube with a camera is passed through the anus and used to look at the surface of your rectum. The image is projected on a TV screen and is magnified to identify changes.
- In addition, your doctor also may take a biopsy (small piece of tissue) of your rectum for testing for disease or infection.
- Any discharge present will undergo lab testing to identify sexually transmitted organisms.
- Doctors also frequently test your blood for the presence of antibodies to support the diagnosis.
Treatment of proctitis depends on the cause of the disease.
- Because the most common cause of proctitis remains sexually transmitted disease, you may be given antibiotics to kill the organism. The presence of one type of infection also suggests the presence of other types of sexually transmitted diseases, so antibiotic treatment may be directed at two or more infectious organisms at the same time. Some of the medications can be given in a single injection.
- You must use safe sex practices, such as condoms, if you engage in high-risk sexual behavior.
- If you have inflammatory disease causing proctitis, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, you will require continuing treatment. Treatments include drugs that suppress the immune system, such as steroids. Your doctor may prescribe steroid suppositories to provide relief in the rectum. In addition you may receive treatment for control of symptoms such as diarrhea.
Surgery for Proctitis
If your proctitis stems from a chronic illness, surgery may be required. A gastroenterologist, a specialist who deals with all the organs from the mouth to the anus, should advise you.
Follow-up for Proctitis
Follow-up is an integral part of treating proctitis. You must finish all the antibiotics prescribed to you. You should abstain from any sexual practice that may irritate the disease. Follow up with a visit to your health care provider after one to two weeks to determine whether the inflammation has cleared or if you should continue therapy. At any point, if the symptoms get worse, either contact your doctor or go to the emergency department, depending on the severity of symptoms.