Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that affects the digestive tract of the patient and can lead to long-term complications. The condition is believed to be caused due to a malfunction of the immune system, which starts attacking the healthy cells in the digestive tract instead of fighting off a virus or bacteria. In some cases, ulcerative colitis can be hereditary as well.

Regardless of what causes the disease, ulcerative colitis can lead to many serious health complications such as perforated colon, severe bleeding, severe dehydration, osteoporosis, liver diseases, and inflammation of the eyes, skin, and joints. Ulcerative colitis can increase the risk of colon cancer too, while it can also lead to problems like toxic megacolon and blood clots in the arteries and veins. Although there is no known cure for the condition, timely treatment can help to evade its long-term complications. Therefore, you should seek medical help at the nearest affordable health clinic as soon as you notice any blood in your stool combined with recurring abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Treatment Options for Ulcerative Colitis

The treatment of inflammatory bowel disease mainly involves drug therapy. In severe cases, surgery can also be recommended to treat ulcerative colitis. However, taking prescribed medicines can be very effective in lessening the severity of the condition. Generally, the doctor would prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs such as sulfasalazine, mesalamine, balsalazide, and olsalazine to ease the pain and inflammation. Sometimes, corticosteroids might also be prescribed to patients experiencing severe forms of ulcerative colitis. Yet as corticosteroids such as prednisone and hydrocortisone can have some side effects, they are not recommended for long-term use.

In some cases, the doctor at the affordable health clinic might also prescribe immunosuppressant drugs to alleviate the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. The most widely recommended immunosuppressant drugs to treat inflammatory bowel disease include azathioprine and mercaptopurine. In addition, cyclosporine, infliximab, adalimumab, golimumab, and vedolizumab can also be prescribed to patients who do not respond well to other medications or cannot endure other treatments.

Note that you might also be required to take some other medications along with the ones mentioned above to manage the effects of ulcerative colitis. These include antibiotics to deal with the fever, anti-diarrheal medications to treat diarrhea, and pain relievers to ease the pain and inflammation. Similarly, you might also be prescribed iron supplements to avoid complications like anemia. However, it should be noted that ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, and diclofenac sodium are not recommended for ulcerative colitis, as these pain-relieving medications can worsen the symptoms of the disease. It’s best to consult a family doctor about which solution would provide you the best long-term comfort for your condition.

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    About the Author

    Dr. Ghassan M. Al-Jazayrly, MD

    A graduate of University of Aleppo Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Al-Jazayrly or, as he is colloquially known: Dr. AJ, is an oncologist and hematologist of a Complete Care Community Health Center (CCCHC) with more than 36 years of experience. In recent years, he’s been involved with a non profit organization known as Every Woman Counts (EWC) which provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to California’s underserved populations in order to eliminate health disparities for low-income individuals.

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