Treatments for Ulcerative colitis


Treatment list for Ulcerative colitis: The list of treatments mentioned in various sources for Ulcerative colitis includes the following list. Always seek professional medical advice about any treatment or change in treatment plans.

Treatments of Ulcerative colitis discussion: Treatment for ulcerative colitis depends on the seriousness of the disease. Most people are treated with medication. In severe cases, a patient may need surgery to remove the diseased colon. Surgery is the only cure for ulcerative colitis.

Some people whose symptoms are triggered by certain foods are able to control the symptoms by avoiding foods that upset their intestines, like highly seasoned foods or milk sugar (lactose). Each person may experience ulcerative colitis differently, so treatment is adjusted for each individual. Emotional and psychological support is important.

Some people have remissions--periods when the symptoms go away--that last for months or even years. However, most patients' symptoms eventually return. This changing pattern of the disease means one cannot always tell when a treatment has helped.

Someone with ulcerative colitis may need medical care for some time, with regular doctor visits to monitor the condition.

Drug Therapy
Most patients with mild or moderate disease are first treated with 5-ASA agents, a combination of the drugs sulfonamide, sulfapyridine, and salicylate that helps control inflammation. Sulfasalazine is the most commonly used of these drugs. Sulfasalazine can be used for as long as needed and can be given along with other drugs. Patients who do not do well on sulfasalazine may respond to newer 5-ASA agents. Possible side effects of 5-ASA preparations include nausea, vomiting, heartburn, diarrhea, and headache.

People with severe disease and those who do not respond to mesalamine preparations may be treated with corticosteroids. Prednisone and hydrocortisone are two corticosteroids used to reduce inflammation. They can be given orally, intravenously, through an enema, or in a suppository, depending on the location of the inflammation. Corticosteroids can cause side effects such as weight gain, acne, facial hair, hypertension, mood swings, and increased risk of infection, so doctors carefully watch patients taking these drugs.

Other drugs may be given to relax the patient or to relieve pain, diarrhea, or infection.

Occasionally, symptoms are severe enough that the person must be hospitalized. For example, a person may have severe bleeding or severe diarrhea that causes dehydration. In such cases the doctor will try to stop diarrhea and loss of blood, fluids, and mineral salts. The patient may need a special diet, feeding through a vein, medications, or sometimes surgery.

About 25 percent to 40 percent of ulcerative colitis patients must eventually have their colons removed because of massive bleeding, severe illness, rupture of the colon, or risk of cancer. Sometimes the doctor will recommend removing the colon if medical treatment fails or if the side effects of corticosteroids or other drugs threaten the patient's health.

One of several surgeries may be done. The most common surgery is a proctocolectomy with ileostomy, which is done in two stages. In the proctocolectomy, the surgeon removes the colon and rectum. In the ileostomy, the surgeon creates a small opening in the abdomen, called a stoma, and attaches the end of the small intestine, called the ileum, to it. This type of ileostomy is called a Brooke ileostomy. Waste will travel through the small intestine and exit the body through the stoma. The stoma is about the size of a quarter and is usually located in the lower right part of the abdomen near the beltline. A pouch is worn over the opening to collect waste, and the patient empties the pouch as needed.

An alternative to the Brooke ileostomy is the continent ileostomy. In this operation, the surgeon uses the ileum to create a pouch inside the lower abdomen. Waste empties into this pouch, and the patient drains the pouch by inserting a tube into it through a small, leakproof opening in his or her side. The patient must wear an external pouch for only the first few months after the operation. Possible complications of the continent ileostomy include malfunction of the leakproof opening, which requires surgical repair, and inflammation of the pouch (pouchitis), which is treated with antibiotics.

An ileoanal anastomosis, or pull-through operation, allows the patient to have normal bowel movements because it preserves part of the rectum. This procedure is becoming increasingly common for ulcerative colitis. In this operation, the surgeon removes the diseased part of the colon and the inside of the rectum, leaving the outer muscles of the rectum. The surgeon then attaches the ileum to the inside of the rectum and the anus, creating a pouch. Waste is stored in the pouch and passed through the anus in the usual manner. Bowel movements may be more frequent and watery than usual. Pouchitis is a possible complication of this procedure.

Not every operation is appropriate for every person. Which surgery to have depends on the severity of the disease and the patient's needs, expectations, and lifestyle. People faced with this decision should get as much information as possible by talking to their doctors, to nurses who work with colon surgery patients (enterostomal therapists), and to other colon surgery patients. Patient advocacy organizations can direct people to support groups and other information resources. (See Resources for the names of such organizations.)

Most people with ulcerative colitis will never need to have surgery. If surgery ever does become necessary, however, some people find comfort in knowing that after the surgery, the colitis is cured and most people go on to live normal, active lives. 1

Sometimes treatment for Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and familial adenomatous polyposis involves removing all or part of the intestines. When the intestines are removed, the body needs a new way for stool to leave the body, so the surgeon creates an opening in the abdomen for stool to pass through. The surgery to create the new opening is called ostomy. The opening is called a stoma. 2

1. excerpt from Ulcerative Colitis: NIDDK
2. excerpt from Ileostomy, Colostomy, and Ileoanal Reservoir Surgery: NIDDK

Last revision: June 23, 2003

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