What Are the Top Treatment Options for Colitis?
If you’re living with ulcerative colitis, everyday life is incredibly challenging. This frustrating medical condition can flare up, leaving its sufferers struggling with their digestive system and the painful symptoms that come with these woes.
Fortunately, there are ways to treat ulcerative colitis and its symptoms – and there are treatment options that can even eliminate the condition entirely.
In order to find a treatment option that works for you, your symptoms, and your body, you’ll want to take one important step first: learning about the available treatment options. Most people who are diagnosed with colitis want to control their symptoms, but it is possible to send this condition into remission.
There are two commonly recommended treatments for ulcerative colitis: medication or surgery. Each treatment option comes with its own benefits and side effects, and each can offer different results and success for colitis sufferers.
Medications for Colitis
Medication is often the first treatment option offered to those diagnosed with colitis. Medications are usually meant to control inflammation, which causes the symptoms of colitis. According to Crohn’s & Colitis, controlling that inflammation can put colitis into remission, allowing you to live a symptom-free life for periods of time.
Crohn’s & Colitis reports that the following types of medications are prescribed to treat colitis:
- Antibiotics: If your ulcerative colitis is more severe, infections can happen throughout your intestines and colon. Antibiotics can treat the complications of colitis like infections.
- Aminosalicylates: Taken orally or rectally, these medications aim to stop inflammation in the intestine lining.
- Steroids: Known as steroids or corticosteroids, these types of medications are taken via intravenously, orally, or rectally. They target inflammation by suppressing the immune system. These medications are only short-term solutions.
- Immune modifiers: Taken orally or by injection, immune modifiers suppress the immune system so inflammation can’t occur.
- Biologics: Biologics suppress the body’s immune system like other medications, but these intravenous or oral medications can reduce inflammation by targeting specific pathways that are known to cause inflammation. These medications are also the choice for those who haven’t found relief through other treatment options or drugs.
It’s common for those living with colitis to need a few different medications. It can take time to find the right medication that suits your body and your symptoms, so it’s important to know what kinds of medications are available and which are specifically designed to target what’s happening to your body.
In addition to medications that are designed to soothe ulcerative colitis and its symptoms, the Mayo Clinic notes that many people living with colitis also need over-the-counter medications to control some of the condition’s symptoms. These medications are easy to find at your local drugstore and are able to be taken in combination with stronger medications. Colitis sufferers can try:
- Anti-diarrhea medications: One of the most frustrating – and common – symptoms of colitis is diarrhea, and over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medications can be an effective solution. These medications can prevent diarrhea, but it’s important to talk with a doctor if you’ve been using them often.
- Pain relief medications: Common over-the-counter pain relievers can stop mild pain associated with colitis. Medicines with acetaminophen, like Tylenol, are often preferred by doctors over those with ibuprofen, since ibuprofen can have side effects on colitis sufferers.
- Supplements: Iron supplements can be beneficial and helpful for those with colitis. Intestinal bleeding can leave you with an iron deficiency, and taking iron supplements can restore your levels.
Surgery Options for Colitis
If medication fails to help your colitis symptoms and you need a different treatment option, the only other option for this condition is surgery. Fortunately, surgery is an incredibly effective treatment – according to the Mayo Clinic, surgery often eliminates ulcerative colitis entirely, solving the problem and allowing you to live a healthy, symptom-free life.
However, surgery is a serious treatment option and it comes with risks. The surgeries that treat colitis are extensive, and they can alter the way you live. According to Crohn’s & Colitis, there are two surgeries that can eliminate colitis:
- Total Proctocolectomy with End Ileostomy: This complicated-sounding surgery is a tough operation to undergo. During a total proctocolectomy, a surgeon removes the anus, colon, and rectum. After this procedure, the ileostomy is performed, and a hole is created in the stomach so all waste is emptied into a pouch. The patient then wears the pouch going forward.
- Proctocolectomy with Ileal Pouch-Anal Anastomosis: An equally complex surgery, this procedure involves the removal of the colon and the rectum. The anus is left alone, and the surgeon creates a new pouch within the body that functions like the colon and rectum. In this surgery, the patient is able to eliminate waste naturally without an external pouch or bag.
While surgery is a smart choice for many colitis sufferers, there are a number of medications you can try before deciding on a surgical procedure. No matter your symptoms, there are plenty of options for treating ulcerative colitis.
The most important piece of information to know is that you have choices. Remember, no two people are the same – meaning your health and your body will respond differently to treatment options. That’s why it’s necessary to do your homework and understand what’s available for you if you’re diagnosed with colitis. Knowing your options is the first step in treating this condition.