Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a long-term condition that causes inflammation of the large intestine (colon) and rectum. The inflammation produces tiny sores (otherwise known as ulcers) on the lining of the rectum and colon. These sores trigger your bowel to move its contents rapidly and empty frequently. An estimated number of 750,000 people in the United States (about 40 to 240 in every 100,000 people) suffer from ulcerative colitis.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to treat this type of IBD. Conventional treatments include medication, surgery, or changes in diet. Some treatments will not completely cure your UC (unless you have surgery to remove the infected colon), but they can reduce your symptoms.
Medications for UC
Most physicians in Salt Lake City recommend ulcerative colitis medication as a treatment for the inflammation in your bowel. Some UC medication includes the following:
- 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA) – Olsalazine, balsalazide, and sulfasalazine are the main medications used to treat UC. These medicines are available in suppositories and pills. Before you take these 5-ASA meds, let your doctor know if you’re allergic to sulfa. They can prescribe sulfa-free 5-ASA.
- Corticosteroids – These anti-inflammatory drugs are used for more severe cases of UC. Corticosteroids can have long-term complications, which is why doctors recommend using them for shorter periods to help patients get in remission.
- Biologics – This medication includes adalimumab-atto (Amjevita), adalimumab (Humira), infliximab (Remicade), vedolizumab (Entyvio), and certolizumab pegol (Cimzia).
- Immunosuppressant – If 5-ASA drugs or corticosteroids are no longer helpful, your doctors may prescribe the following medicines, 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP) and tacrolimus (Envarsus XR and tacrolimus).
Changes in Diet
Some foods can worsen the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. Diets rich in dairy can aggravate the sores of your large intestine. Also, foods that contain plenty of fiber can trigger a flare-up in your colon. Refrain from eating food made from whole grain flour, such as:
Include nuts in your “Do Not Eat” list, too. The fiber in nuts can make it difficult for your colon to digest food. Reduce your intake of sulfate and sulfide. You can find these in beer, red meat, apple and grape juice, dried fruit, and cruciferous vegetables.
In case your medication or diet plans do not work, or your symptoms are getting worse, your doctor may recommend surgery.
If your surgery involves the removal of your entire colon, the surgeon will create an opening (a.k.a. a stoma) in the walls of your belly. They will then attach a bag and bring the tip of your lower small intestine through the stoma. Waste will pass through it and end up in a pouch attached to the opening.
Another surgery called Ileal Pouch Anal Anastomosis (IPAA) (or a pelvic pouch) doesn’t require creating another opening in your stomach wall. Instead, your surgeon will remove your rectum and colon, then use your small intestine to form an internal reservoir or pouch as a new rectum. They’ll connect this pouch to your anus.
If you have ulcerative colitis, consult with your doctor for potential treatments as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and immediate treatment can help reduce the disease.