Ulcerative Colitis Treatments

Ulcerative Colitis Treatments

A chronic disease of the large intestine, ulcerative colitis occurs when the lining of the colon develops ulcers that create mucous and sores along with sustained inflammation of the colon. Resulting from an abnormal response of the immune system, ulcerative colitis primarily affects the colon, unlike Crohn's disease which affects parts of the gastrointestinal tract. If left untreated, the symptoms of ulcerative colitis may lead to life-threatening complications. Because no known cure currently exists, it is important to address and manage the symptoms of this disease. Let's examine the top three treatments for ulcerative colitis and how they each contribute to improving symptoms.

When the symptoms of ulcerative colitis begin to worsen, a visit to a healthcare provider will help with ruling out irritable bowl syndrome, celiac disease or Crohn's disease. A physical examination, review of lab results and family medical history will allow the doctor to discuss the first course of action to address symptoms. The most common course of action initially taken is a course of antibiotics, and in some cases, probiotics, which will aid in reducing diarrhea, a common annoyance. The use of antibiotics may assist in decreasing the concentration of bacteria present in the gut lumen and will alter the intestinal microbiota composition. Popular antibiotics such as Ampicillin, Ciprofloxacin and Metronidazole are commonly recommended to treat infections in the colon.

In cases where an infection is not the cause of symptomatic conditions such as nausea, loss of appetite, weight loss or an urgency to have a bowel movement, medication may be prescribed to treat flare-ups and reduce inflammation. Aminosalicylates, known as anti-inflammatories are an effective treatment for treating ulcerative colitis. More severe cases of this chronic disease are treated with Corticosteroids are taken orally, via an IV or suppository and are designed to help the immune system with suppressing inflammation. Once the disease is in remission, the dosage of this steroid is reduced and eventually stopped, as steroids are not an effective maintenance therapy to keep the disease in remission. While steroidal treatments are effective, possible side effects can occur such as weight gain, acne, infection and mood and behavioral issues.

When corticosteroids have been found to not provide sufficient treatment results, immunosuppressants such as Mercaptopurine or Azathioprine are often prescribed to treat ulcerative colitis. Not only do immunosuppressants reduce inflammation, but they also suppress the immune system. This type of medication is often used as a long-term treatment for sufferers of ulcerative colitis and are often taken 3 - 6 months - several immunomodulators be safely combined with other medications. Types of immunomodulators include Azathioprine, Methotrexate, Mercaptopurine, Cyclosporine A and Tacrolimus. People that have moderate to severe ulcerative colitis and failed to respond to corticosteroids or aminosalicylates are prescribed immunomodulators. Side effects of this type of medications include nausea, headaches, diarrhea, pancreatitis and the suppression of bone marrow, hepatitis, diabetes and an increase in cholesterol levels. 

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