Ulcerative Colitis Treatment
Long-lasting inflammation and ulcers in the large intestine and rectum are signs of ulcerative colitis. This inflammatory bowel disease is usually a slowly developing illness which, left untreated, can lead to life-threatening complications.
Once ulcerative colitis develops, there is no cure; however, there are treatments that can minimize symptoms and reduce the effects of this chronic condition. In many cases, remission of the disease can be achieved.
There are several types of ulcerative colitis. The type is classified according to its position within the colon. The exact cause of the disease has yet to be discovered, but stress and diet do seem to influence it. Heredity may be a factor since it is more common in people who have family members with the disease, but there are many who have it and do not have any family history of it.
Drug therapy or surgery are used to treat ulcerative colitis. The type of treatment recommended is based on the severity of the condition. Individuals respond differently to the various drugs, so it may take some time for your doctor to find the ideal drug for you. Side effects from the drugs must also be taken into consideration.
Types of Treatment
Reducing inflammation with the use of prescription anti-inflammatory drugs is the initial step in treatment of ulcerative colitis. Moderate and severe cases may require the use of corticosteroids like prednisone or hydrocortisone if other anti-inflammatories are not effective. These drugs are given short-term due to their side effects.
Immune system suppressors are also used to treat the inflammation. These drugs suppress the immune system response that initiates the inflammation process. Some patients respond better to combinations of drugs rather than one drug.
Other medications are used to manage ulcerative colitis symptoms. Before using any over-the-counter drugs, talk with your doctor. Dr. Michael may have recommendations for addressing your symptoms.
Surgery is used to eliminate ulcerative colitis, but it also means the removal of the entire colon for most patients. In one type of surgical procedure, the colon is removed, and a bag is constructed from the end of the small intestine. This bag is connected to the anus, which allows for relatively normal elimination of waste. This procedure removes the need for a bag outside of the body.
When construction of a pouch in the body is not possible, the surgeon must create a permanent opening in the abdomen. The stool is then passed from the body to an attached bag.
Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis
A person may experience many or only a few of the symptoms of the disease. The severity of the inflammation and its location can affect symptoms also. The signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Diarrhea, possibly with blood or pus
- Inability to defecate
- Rectal bleeding or pain
- Urgency to defecate
- Weight loss
Children with ulcerative colitis may fail to grow. Symptoms for most people are usually mild to moderate. There may also be extended periods of remission with the disease.
A thorough examination and testing can determine if you have ulcerative colitis. If you are experiencing symptoms, contact Dr. Michael to schedule an appointment.