Colitis Treatment: A Multi-Faceted Approach
Today, there is no known cure for ulcerative colitis (other than surgery to remove the colon), but the good news is that there are a variety of colitis treatment options to enable individuals to manage this chronic disease and live a full life. Treatment for ulcerative colitis often involves a combination approach, that includes diet, medication, and surgery.
What is Colitis?
Colitis is a disease that involves the colon. With colitis, the inner lining of the colon is inflamed. This inflammation can cause a variety of symptoms including:
- Diarrhea (with or without blood)
- Abdominal pain
Other symptoms may include:
- Bloating/Abdominal Distention
- Weight Loss
- Loss of Appetite
- Mucous in the stool
- Treatments for Colitis
Your treatment protocol depends on the severity of your condition.
If your colitis is producing mild symptoms, dietary changes, anti-diarrheal medicines, and steroids may be all that is needed to manage the conditions. You may have to avoid foods, such as spicy or high-fiber foods, for example, that seem to trigger your colitis flare-ups. Sometime medicines to reduce inflammation in the intestines, known as aminosalicylates, is added to the mix.
Moderate to severe symptoms associated with colitis usually necessitate steroidal medication to control inflammation, and the dosage is higher than that used to treat mild colitis symptoms. When the inflammation flare up ceases, aminosalicylates help to keep the inflammation in remission. Some individuals may need to be hospitalized during a colitis flare up for hydration and intravenous (IV) fluids.
Severe colitis may be treated with immunodulator medicines which suppress the immune system to prevent inflammation. Biologics may also be used to block your inflammatory response.
Lastly, if all other conservative methods fail to reduce your symptoms, surgery might be recommended. A surgical removal of the colon essentially cures ulcerative colitis. This surgery is often followed up with an ileostomy, which is an opening in the abdominal wall that enables waste to be removed. An ileostomy can be short-term (i.e. temporary) or long-term (i.e. permanent). In some cases, an ileostomy is reversed.
Today, individuals with ulcerative colitis have more options than ever to take advantage of to not only manage their disease, but live a fulfilled, engaged life.