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Ulcerative Colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that effects the large intestine or colon of the sufferer. The causes of ulcerative colitis are largely unknown and the main symptoms are abdominal pains and bloody diarrhea. The treatment of ulcerative colitis will largely depend on the severity of the symptoms diagnosed.
The most common form of treatment for ulcerative colitis is the prescription aminosalicylates. These are an anti-inflammatory drug with the active ingredient being mesalazine. The aim of these drugs is to reduce the inflammation within the large intestine or colon and may be successful in reducing the symptoms or even achieving remission in mild to moderate sufferers.
However this is not often the case for more severe cases and therefore additional medication is prescribed alongside the aminosalicyates. The additional medication is usually in the form of steroids. Steroids work in a similar way to aminosalicyates by attempting to reduce the inflammation, the difference being that they are considerably stronger. These can be administered orally or directly into the rectum with the use of an enema or suppository.
The long-term use of steroids is not advisable with the onset of a number of potential harmful side effects. These may include high blood pressure, weight gain, and thinning of the skin. If prescribed steroids close monitoring of the patients’ health will occur with the aim of stopping the use of these drugs when symptoms improve.
If the symptoms of ulcerative colitis have not responded to treatment thus far other forms of medication may be prescribed. The main one is immunosuppressants. These work by reducing the immune system within the body with the hope that this will stop the inflammation. The difficulty with immunosuppressants is that they will effect the entire body and not just the colon resulting in a higher chance of infection.
The treatment of severe ulcerative colitis is undertaken in the hospital due to the increased risks of dehydration and malnutrition. Surgery will involve the complete removal of the colon with the small intestine being re-routed to enable fluids to leave the body, An internal pouch is then inserted and is emptied in a similar way as when the body defecates.
Many sufferers cite particular foods that can worsen their symptoms and they learn to avoid these foods. However it is very difficult to pinpoint particular foods for general advice for all ulcerative colitis sufferers as different foods effect people in different ways. Despite this a number of authors on the subject state that during a flare up sufferers should avoid foods that contain high insoluble fiber and dairy fats.
By maintaining a healthy diet and undertaking regular exercise many ulcerative colitis sufferers are able to manage their symptoms without the need for medication and are able to have an active lifestyle. Other advice that many believe can be helpful in the treatment of ulcerative colitis include drinking aloe vera juice, which is an anti-inflammatory, and avoiding the consumption of irritants such as caffeine and alcohol.
For professional care in treating and relieving your ulcerative colitis or other gastrointestinal issues, please contact the office of Dr. Vikram Tarugu to make an appointment.