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Ulcerative colitis treatment

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of large intestine which commonly features with recurrent abdominal pain and diarrhea. The disease may cause serious damage to the intestine which can result in sometimes critical complications.

Inflammatory process almost always affects superficial layer of the colon and rectum. It does not affect small intestine or other parts of gastrointestinal tract. This medical condition is treated as it was autoimmune disease even though there is no proof that ulcerative colitis actually is autoimmune disease. Symptoms and signs of the disease can be successfully alleviated by different groups of medications.

Treatment for Ulcerative Colitis

The treatment is applied to reduce the symptoms and, if possible, to eliminate them for longer period of time. The main problem is coping with the inflammation. Sometimes treatment has to take care of complications of the disease. Both, conservative approach as well as surgery may be applied in patients suffering from ulcerative colitis.

  • Medications
Anti-inflammatory medications are most commonly administered as a first line of medications. They include several groups of medications. The first group includes sulfasalazine, Mesalamine, balsalazide and olsalazine. Unlike sulfasalazine the rest of medications from this group do not cause serious side effects and are well-tolerated. They can effectively reduce the inflammation and consequent symptoms of the disease. Corticosteroids are the second group of anti-inflammatory medications used in ulcerative colitis. They can reduce inflammation but they also cause numerous side effects.

Immune system suppressors are also used in patients with ulcerative colitis. These medications are administered in case the disease cannot be brought under control by anti-inflammatory medications. They are not supposed to be administered in patients who are suffering from certain medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis, heart failure or cancer. Some of the immune system suppressors used in ulcerative colitis are azathioprine, Cyclosporine and infliximab.

Additional medications may include antibiotics, anti-diarrheals, pain killers, and iron supplements in case patients are suffering from accompanying anemia.

It may sound amazing but nicotine patches may be efficient in some patients. These patches can prolong remission of mild ulcerative colitis. The exact mechanism of how patches work has not been explained yet.

  • Surgery
Surgery is reserved only for severe cases of the disease and complications of ulcerative colitis.

Radical surgery includes  resection of the entire colon and rectum. This surgery, also known as proctocolectomy, actually cures the disease. After proctocolectomy feces is eliminated through a hole on the abdomen called ileostomy into a bag. Luckily, if the patient additionally undergoes ileoanal anastomosis there is no need for ileostomy.

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