Medical Q&As

Ulcerative colitis - treatment?

My twenty four year old daughter lives in England and has being passing blood in her stools. She also suffers a lot from diarrhoea. Her doctor said she might have ulcerative colitis. If so what is the treatment for this condition?

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition characterised by remission and relapse. Some people may be relatively untroubled by the condition and only suffer very occasional relapses whereas others may be very affected by the condition and have to undergo intensive treatment. Therefore the treatment for ulcerative colitis very much depends on the severity of the condition. There is no medical cure for the condition but several drugs are available to suppress the inflammation in the bowel and relieve the symptoms of diarrhoea, abdominal pain and rectal bleeding. There are three major classes of drugs used to treat ulcerative colitis. There are aspirin-like products that can be taken by mouth or administered rectally. These medications are effective in mild to moderate disease and can help to prevent relapses. Steroids are used in the treatment of moderately severe ulcerative colitis and they can be administered orally, rectally or intravenously. Thirdly immunosupressants are used to suppress the inflammatory response when either of the previously mentioned categories of drugs has not been effective. They are also used as maintenance treatment in those patients with very active disease. Good nutrition is a very important part of the management of ulcerative colitis. Surgery is also a treatment option but it is usually reserved for people who have failed to respond adequately to medical treatment or who have developed complications of the condition. Surgery usually involves removal of the entire colon and in the past usually meant that the person was left with an ileostomy. However, newer surgical techniques have been developed that involve removal of the colon while maintaining continuity of the bowel without the need for an ileostomy. It is important to stress that the majority of people with ulcerative colitis can be managed adequately without the need for surgery.