What Can I Expect If I Have A Diagnosis Of Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is a lifelong condition that can have mild to severe symptoms. For most people, the symptoms come and go. Some people have just one episode and recover. A few others develop a nonstop form that rapidly advances. In up to 30% of people, the disease spreads from the rectum to the colon. When both the rectum and colon are affected, ulcerative symptoms can be worse and happen more often.
You may be able to manage the disease with medications. But surgery to remove your colon and rectum is the only cure. About 30% of people with ulcerative colitis need surgery.
Can I Get Surgery For My Ulcerative Colitis
Surgery is an option if medications arent working or you have complications, such as bleeding or abnormal growths. You might develop precancerous lesions, or growths that can turn into colorectal cancer. A doctor can remove these lesions with surgery or during a colonoscopy.
Research shows that about 30% of people with ulcerative colitis need surgery sometime during their life. About 20% of children with ulcerative colitis will need surgery during their childhood years.
There are two kinds of surgery for ulcerative colitis:
Proctocolectomy and ileoanal pouch
The proctocolectomy and ileoanal pouch is the most common procedure for ulcerative colitis. This procedure typically requires more than one surgery, and there are several ways to do it. First, your surgeon does a proctocolectomy a procedure that removes your colon and rectum. Then the surgeon forms an ileoanal pouch to create a new rectum. While your body and newly made pouch is healing, your surgeon may perform a temporary ileostomy at the same time. This creates an opening in your lower belly. Your small intestines attach to the stoma, which looks like a small piece of pink skin on your belly.
After you heal, waste from your small intestines comes out through the stoma and into an attached bag called an ostomy bag. The small bag lies flat on the outside of your body, below your beltline. Youll need to wear the bag at all times to collect waste. Youll have to change the bag frequently throughout the day.
Complementary Treatments And Therapies
You may consider these approaches in addition to what your doctor prescribes. But itâs important to talk to your medical team about any and all of them because some, like supplements, can interfere with treatments from your doctor. Letâs take a look at a few:
Mind-body therapies:Stress and anxiety are well-known triggers for many people with ulcerative colitis, so it is not surprising that mind-body relaxation techniques could help. These techniques help nurture a healthy connection between your mind and body as well as between you and the outside world. In some cases, they encourage behavior changes in your everyday life. They may be worthwhile if only to lessen anxiety and depression linked to UC and improve quality of life. In addition, there is some evidence that yoga, meditation, and gut-centered hypnotherapy could help with some physical symptoms or flare-ups of UC. Some of the techniques, like cognitive behavioral therapy and patient support groups, have been so successful that they have slowly become a part of mainstream treatment for IBD.
Keep in mind that the FDA doesn’t regulate supplements, so claims on packaging may not be accurate. Thatâs yet another reason why itâs important to talk to your doctor before you start taking any supplements for your UC.
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If Your Doctor Has Recommended Infusion Therapy Let Infusion Associates Help You
At Infusion Associates, we provide medically-prescribed infusion therapy for patients with chronic conditions in a welcoming and friendly environment. Our team of healthcare professionals is fully committed to making the experience as comfortable as possible for you or your patients. We always inform patients of any potential side effects and answer all their questions before starting treatment. In addition, we have a Registered Pharmacist on-site to make the process as seamless as possible.
If you would like to refer a patient to us or want to inquire about the treatments we offer, you can contact us by calling us at or filling out this form.
How Can I Stop Bleeding From Ulcerative Colitis
There are medications that may reduce inflammation in the rectum and large intestines, which may, in turn, reduce bleeding. Anti-inflammatory medications for UC can include: 5-Aminosalicylic acid: Medication that may help reduce acute inflammation and causes inflammation to become inactive over time.
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Engage In Regular Physical Activity
According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise may normalize bowel function. And a 2015 study that looked at the relationship between constipation and lifestyle factors found that people who regularly exercise had a lower risk of constipation.
Increase your level of physical activity to see if constipation improves. Start with low- to moderate-intensity workouts, and then gradually increase intensity as your endurance improves.
Go for a walk or swim, ride your bike, or participate in enjoyable sports. The
Drugs That Target Inflammation
Most people with UC take prescription drugs called aminosalicylates that tame inflammation in the gut. These include balsalazide , mesalamine , olsalazine , and sulfasalazine . Which one you take, and whether it is taken by mouth or as an enema or suppository, depend on the area of your colon that’s affected. As long as you avoid your triggers, these may be enough if your disease is mild to moderate.
You may need something else if your condition is more severe or if those standard treatments stop working. Your doctor may consider other medicines. Some people may also need surgery.
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What Is Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation and ulcers in the innermost lining of your large intestine and rectum. The inflammation usually starts in the rectum and can spread to the colon. If it affects only the rectum, it is called ulcerative proctitis. If the entire colon is affected, it is called pancolitis.
The exact cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown, but research suggests that it is the result of an overactive immune system. There seems to be a genetic link to developing ulcerative colitis as well as environmental factors.
Some other risk factors include:
- Age between 15 and 30, or older than 60.
- Frequent use of NSAIDs including Advil and Aleve .
When you develop ulcerative colitis, your symptoms start gradually and get worse over time. Some symptoms of ulcerative colitis you may experience include:
What Causes Ulcerative Colitis
Researchers think the cause of ulcerative colitis is complex and involves many factors. They think its probably the result of an overactive immune response. The immune systems job is to protect the body from germs and other dangerous substances. But, sometimes your immune system mistakenly attacks your body, which causes inflammation and tissue damage.
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Oral Vs Rectal Treatments
Most physicians prescribe ulcerative colitis patients oral versions of 5-ASAs or corticosteroids, since this is a patient-preferred delivery method of medication. However, even if they have a specially designed release mechanism, they might not reach and treat the area where the disease is most active.
For example, when you apply sunscreen to your skin, you need to make sure that you cover every exposed part to protect it from the sun. Similarly, when applying these treatments to your rectum and lower colon, you need to make sure that the product covers all of the inflamed areas.
Oral tablets might not be the optimal way to reach the end of the colon, where stool and the fact that ulcerative colitis patients have diarrhea, might interfere with its effectiveness. Unfortunately, this is also the area in the colon where a flare usually starts. The best way to reach this particular area is by inserting the drug directly into the rectum.
Rectal preparations are particularly good at treating urgency and bleeding, symptoms that often are very bothersome. A positive response often occurs within days of treatment.
What Are The Most Common Side Effects Of Ulcerative Colitis Medications
As with all medicines, those used for ulcerative colitis will have some side effects, depending on the class you are taking.
Corticosteroids may cause weight gain, mood changes, acne, increased blood sugar and increased blood pressure.
Aminosalicylates should not be taken if you are allergic to aspirin. They may also cause abdominal pain, headache, gas, and nausea.
Immunosuppressants can suppress the immune system so you can see an increased risk of infection as well as cancer. Some other side effects include nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
Biologics are given by injections so you may see injection site reactions. They also carry an increased risk of infections, cancer, and allergic reactions.
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Ulcerative Colitis Treatment Options You Should Be Aware Of
Ulcerative colitis can be unpredictable, which can make it challenging for physicians to determine whether a particular course of treatment has been effective. The main goal of treatment in UC is to reduce the signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis by regulating the immune system, and to bring about long-term remission. While there is no cure for UC, treatment can help control symptoms so that patients can lead a fuller life. Treatment may include over-the-counter as well as prescription medications, lifestyle changes in stress management, diet and nutrition, and surgery.
Prescription medications typically include anti-inflammatory drugs, immune suppressants, and steroids. If these are not effective, -alpha inhibitors, or biologics, drugs typically given to treat certain types of arthritis, may be used.
Ulcerative Colitis Treatment: Medication
The most common medication option is anti-inflammatory drugs. These can be used orally or topically to reduce inflammation of the colon and rectum.
Treating ulcerative colitis is a highly individualized process. At Johns Hopkins, we tailor your treatment to your specific needs and alter the medication as necessary. Your specific medication regimen will depend largely on the severity of your condition.
Other medications include:
Immunosuppressive medications: These drugs slow your immune system to stop the immune response that is causing the colon and rectum to swell.
Biologics: Like immunosuppressive medications, biologics target the immune system, but biologics act on specific immune system proteins that encourage inflammation.
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More Drugs That Work On Your Immune System
Other types of medicines for ulcerative colitis target your immune system, too. Your doctor may call these immunomodulators. They may be good options if 5-ASAs and corticosteroids havenât worked well for you.
The most common ones are azathioprine , mercaptopurine , and cyclosporine . Due to the risk of side effects, doctors usually save cyclosporine for people who donât have success with other meds. They may also try methotrexate paired with folic acid.
Ozanimod is an oral medication and is the first sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor modulator approved for patients with moderately to severely active UC.
The goal is to lower inflammation in your colon.
These drugs can have side effects. They can damage your liver and make you more likely to get skin cancers, lymphoma, and infections. If you take them, your doctor will test your blood and check you for skin cancer regularly.
Cyclosporine is especially strong, but it works fast. Your doctor might prescribe it to get a severe flare under control, and then give you 6-MP or azathioprine afterward. The drug may cause kidney problems, gout, infections, and high blood pressure.
It can take several months for some of these drugs to work. So your doctor may give you a faster-acting medicine, like a low dose of a corticosteroid, to help in the meantime.
What Is The Difference Between Ulcerative Colitis And Crohns Disease
They are both inflammatory bowel diseases and share some of the same symptoms such as stomach cramps and pain, diarrhea, reduced appetite, and fever. Ulcerative colitis, however, only occurs in the large intestine while Crohns disease can occur at any point in the gastrointestinal tract. Ulcerative colitis also only affects the innermost lining of the colon while Crohns disease can occur in all the layers of the bowel walls.
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What Causes Ulcerative Colitis Flareups
When youre in remission from ulcerative colitis, youll want to do everything you can to prevent a flareup. Things that may cause a flareup include:
- Emotional stress: Get at least seven hours of sleep a night, exercise regularly and find healthy ways to relieve stress, such as meditation.
- NSAID use: For pain relief or a fever, use acetaminophen instead of NSAIDs like Motrin® and Advil®.
- Antibiotics: Let your healthcare provider know if antibiotics trigger your symptoms.
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Medications To Treat Crohn’s Disease And Ulcerative Colitis
We work with our patients to develop treatment to control the disease taking patient preference and personal goals into consideration. We also work with your other providers to minimize drug interaction and make sure that IBD treatment does not compromise the care of your other health concerns.
A full-time clinical pharmacist is available for staff and patients alike to discuss treatment options and provide patient education and resources. You may see the clinical pharmacist one-on-one for the first doses of medication injections. The pharmacist can also work with you to quit smoking and can provide complete medication reviews to assist with medication compliance and understanding.
How Does Pediatric Ulcerative Colitis Affect My Childs Mental/emotional Health
Like many conditions, ulcerative colitis can have a negative psychological effect, especially on children. They can experience physical, emotional, social and family problems. Because of the medications and/or general stress from the situation, your child may experience:
- Worry about appearance and physical stamina.
- Vulnerability because their body doesnt function normally.
- Poor concentration.
- Misunderstandings with friends and family.
Children need mutual support from all family members. Its helpful for the entire family to learn about the disease and try to be empathetic. Seek out a psychiatrist and therapist to help your child manage such challenges of their ulcerative colitis.
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Key Points About Ulcerative Colitis
What You Can Do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there’s anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet.
- Write down any symptoms you’re experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you’re taking. Be sure to let your health care provider know if you’re taking any herbal preparations, as well.
- Ask a family member or friend to come with you. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
Your time is limited, so preparing a list of questions ahead of time can help you make the most of your time. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For ulcerative colitis, some basic questions to ask include:
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Diversity Of Biologic Treatments For Ulcerative Colitis
The approval of infliximab marked a turning point in the treatment of patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease in general and for those with Ulcerative Colitis in particular. Because it was the first formulation of this family of medicines that came into the hands of the doctor. But it has not been the only biological treatment approved.
There are other active substances belonging to the group of Tumor Necrosis Factor antibodies inhibitors or TNF inhibitor drugs. This is the case of adalimumab and golimumab, as well as the biosimilars ofinfliximab and adalimumab.
For its part, vedolizumab is an integrin receptor antagonist drug. The objective of this active substance is to decrease the entry of inflammatory cells into the intestine. And it does that by blocking the integrins, membrane receptors that allow the passage of white blood cells and lymphocytes into the intestine.
One of the latest biologic drugs approved has been ustekinumab. In this case, it focuses on blocking the action of interleukins 12 and 23. These proteins are involved in the regulation of the inflammatory response. When they are elevated, activation and a lymphocyte proliferation occurs, which in turn provokes an inflammatory response of the organism.