Ulcerative Colitis Treatment
The primary goal in the treatment of ulcerative colitis is to reduce inflammation in the intestine, the underlying cause for symptoms. Treatment for ulcerative colitis often includes medications that reduce inflammation and diarrhea, and antibiotics. Your doctor may try a number of these medications until he or she finds the medication combination that works best for you. Treatment for severe ulcerative colitis may include surgery to remove the colon.
Treatment options for ulcerative colitis include:
- Oral rehydration therapy for older children and adults:
- Important because dehydration is a common complication of ulcerative colitis.
- Drink clear liquids only, such as water, sports drinks (best), fruit juice and dilute tea.
- Drink small quantities of fluids frequently, such as 2 tablespoons of fluid every 5 minutes.
- May be able to advance to full liquid diet once symptoms improve
- The absence of food allows the intestines to rest.
- Intravenous fluids for severe dehydration
- Medication that reduce inflammation of the colon:
- Salicylates for ulcerative colitis
- Tumor necrosis factor inhibitor for ulcerative colitis
- Immunomodulators for ulcerative colitis
- Corticosteroids for ulcerative colitis
- Medications for diarrhea:
- Medications for nausea and vomiting:
- Antibiotics may be used for bacterial intestinal infections that make ulcerative colitis symptoms worse
- Nicotine patches:
- The same patches that people use to quit smoking may help to relieve the symptoms of ulcerative colitis during a mild flare up of the disease.
- Anti-diarrheal medications:
- A fiber supplement such as psyllium may help relieve the symptoms of mild to moderate diarrhea.
- Loperamide may be effective for more severe diarrhea
- Pain relievers:
- Acetaminophen may help.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents and aspirin may only make your symptoms worse.
- Iron supplements:
- Chronic blood loss in the stool may lead to iron deficient anemia.
- Surgery to remove the colon:
- May be necessary for severe inflammation, infection, or bleeding in the colon.
Ulcerative Colitis Drugs
Salicylate Anti-inflammatory Medications
Initial drug therapy for ulcerative colitis usually includes aminosalicylate medications. These drugs reduce inflammation in the colon.
Salicylate anti-inflammatory medications used to treat ulcerative colitis include:
- Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine)
- Mesalamine (Asacol, Pentasa, Lialda, Rowasa, Canasa)
- Balsalazide (Colazal)
Corticosteroid medications have been used successfully to prevent episodes of ulcerative colitis. However, long-term therapy with corticosteroids increases the risk of side effects.
Corticosteroid medications used to treat ulcerative colitis include:
Immunomodulator drugs suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation in those with ulcerative colitis.
Immunomodulator drugs used to treat ulcerative colitis include:
Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) Inhibitors
Tumor necrosis factor stimulates inflammation. Drugs that inhibit tumor necrosis factor (TNF) may help control the inflammation of ulcerative colitis.
Tumor necrosis factor inhibitors used for the treatment of ulcerative colitis include:
Antidiarrheal agents may be used to help control diarrhea. These medications require careful monitoring because they may trigger toxic megacolon, a potentially fatal complication.
Antidiarrheal agents used to treat ulcerative colitis include:
Antiemetics may be used for severe nausea or vomiting.
Medications for nausea and vomiting in those with ulcerative colitis include:
Episodes of ulcerative colitis may be triggered by bacterial infections.
Antibiotics used to treat ulcerative colitis include:
Ulcerative Colitis Questions For Doctor
The following are some important questions to ask before and after the treatment of ulcerative colitis.
Questions to ask before treatment:
- What are my treatment options?
- Is surgery an option for me?
- What are the risks associated with treatment?
- Do I need to stay in the hospital?
- How long will I be in the hospital?
- What are the complications I should watch for?
- How long will I be on medication?
- What are the potential side effects of my medication?
- Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
- Should I take my medication with food?
Questions to ask after treatment:
- Do I need to change my diet?
- Do I need to lose weight?
- Are there any medications or supplements I should avoid?
- When can I resume my normal activities?
- When can I return to work?
- Do I need a special exercise program?
- What else can I do to reduce my risk for worsening ulcerative colitis symptoms?
- How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
- What local support and other resources are available?
Ulcerative Colitis Specialist
Continue to Ulcerative Colitis Home Care
- Hanauer SB. Review article: the long-term management of ulcerative colitis. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2004 Oct;20 Suppl 4:97-101. 
- Loftus EV Jr, Kane SV, Bjorkman D. Systematic review: short-term adverse effects of 5-aminosalicylic acid agents in the treatment of ulcerative colitis. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2004 Jan 15;19(2):179-89. 
- Rizzello F, Gionchetti P, Venturi A, Campieri M. Review article: medical treatment of severe ulcerative colitis. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2003 Jun;17 Suppl 2:7-10.