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Ulcerative Colitis: Talk to Your Doctor

Understanding ulcerative colitis symptoms and treatment can help you live easier with the condition.
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Can medications help ulcerative colitis? continued...

Corticosteroids are prescribed to bring the disease into remission. For moderate to severe inflammatory bowel disease these medications are given intravenously in the hospital. 

Drugs called biologics block chemicals involved in inflammation and are also available. Biologics include Humira, Cimzia, Entyvio, Remicade, and Simponi. It is often recommended as an alternative to corticosteroids, which can have serious long-term adverse effects. This drug helps bring the disease under control and maintains the disease in remission.

Your doctor will discuss the best medication given your symptoms and overall health.

What is the treatment for an ulcerative colitis flare-up once it begins?

Anti-inflammatory drugs such as 5-ASAs are used to stop mild flares. To treat more severe flares, doctors usually turn to more potent medications, such as corticosteroids.

What tests are used to monitor ulcerative colitis?

Doctors have a wide variety of tests that are useful in diagnosing and monitoring inflammatory bowel diseases. A variety of imaging tests, including colonoscopies, are performed to assess the bowels. Biopsies are sometimes taken to look at cells in the lining of the intestines.  Blood tests are used to detect nutritional deficiencies and anemia, a common side effect of ulcerative colitis. Stool specimens can detect infections in the intestines.

Is surgery an option?

The only true cure for ulcerative colitis is the removal of the colon, a procedure called a colectomy. However this means that a permanent external bag to drain the stool is needed. Surgery is considered a last resort, performed when the disease does not respond to medication. Surgery is also indicated when there are precancerous or cancerous lesions of the colon.

What's the prognosis for someone with ulcerative colitis?

The answer depends on many things, including the severity of your disease, your overall health, and how well you respond to treatment. Many people effectively manage their symptoms with proper diet and medication and maintain a high quality of life. Your doctor can help give you an idea of what to expect.

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Reviewed on September 21, 2011
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What do you rely on most to manage ulcerative colitis?