Proctitis is an inflammation of the lining of the rectum. It causes pain, soreness, bleeding, and a discharge of mucus or pus. Proctitis can last a long (chronic) or a short (acute) amount of time. When the inflammation goes beyond the rectum, the condition is often called proctocolitis. Proctitis can usually be treated 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.
Common symptoms of proctitis include:
A number of conditions can cause proctitis. Sexually transmitted infections are the most common:
These factors can raise someone' s risk of proctitis:
You can take several steps to prevent proctitis:
Proctitis can usually be treated with a combination of both conventional and complementary therapies. The specific treatment depends on what' s causing the proctitis. For example, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics for proctitis caused by a bacterial infection. If the inflammation is caused by Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, your doctor may recommend 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 will depend on the cause of the proctitis.
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 to get rid of abnormal tissue.
A comprehensive treatment plan for proctitis may include a range of complementary and alternative therapies. Ask your team of health care providers about the best ways to incorporate these therapies into your overall 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 are generally a safe way to strengthen and tone the body's systems. As with any therapy, you should work with your health care provider to get your problem diagnosed before starting any treatment. You may use herbs as dried extracts (capsules, powders, 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) is a demulcent, a substance that protects irritated tissues and helps them heal. It may help soothe the digestive tract. Take 60 - 320 mg per day. One tsp. powder may be mixed with water and drunk three to four times a day.
Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) is a demulcent and emollient, a substance that soothes mucous membranes like those found in the digestive tract. Drink one cup of tea three times per day. To make tea, steep 2 - 5 g of dried leaf or 5 g dried root in one cup boiling water. Strain and cool. 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 can have blood-thinning properties and may increase the risk of bleeding. Talk to your doctor before taking garlic if you also take blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin) 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 symptoms associated with proctitis. 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%. There were no participants whose 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 associated inflammatory bowel disease, scientists aren't sure exactly what the connection is. Some researchers believe that psychotherapy combined with the following stress-reduction techniques may help relieve symptoms of proctitis:
If you have proctitis, keep the following considerations in mind:
Complications from proctitis can range from ulcers and boils to severe bleeding. Proctitis related to ulcerative colitis may spread to include 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 topical 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, however, the prognosis for people with most forms of proctitis is good with proper treatment and follow-up with a doctor.
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