Your doctor will develop a plan for treating your ulcerative colitis (UC). Many people with UC see a doctor who specializes in digestive disorders, called a gastroenterologist. But many people may continue to work with their primary care doctor as well, to help manage their disease. Since UC is a disease in which symptoms may return, try to find a doctor you feel comfortable talking with because you may see the doctor on a regular basis.
Although there are no medications that cure ulcerative colitis, there are effective treatment options for managing symptoms. Ask your doctor about the benefits and risks of these treatment options.
Mild to moderate UC may be treated with medications that contain 5-aminosalicylic acid. 5-aminosalicylic acid, also known as mesalamine, 5-ASA or 5-aminosalicylate, may be prescribed to relieve symptoms and induce and maintain UC remission. Mesalamine is believed to help reduce inflammation in the colon. Doctors sometimes refer to medications that limit inflammation like 5-ASAs as anti-inflammatories.
Corticosteroids may be prescribed for mild, moderate, or severe UC flares. They are not typically prescribed for maintenance or long-term treatment of UC. Corticosteroids (or steroids) are prescribed to help limit inflammation. They may also affect the activity of your body’s immune system.
Immunosuppressants may be prescribed for patients with moderate to severe UC who do not respond to 5-ASAs or steroids. These drugs are thought to work by changing the activity of the immune system.
Biologics are sometimes prescribed for patients with moderate to severe UC who don't respond to other UC treatments. They are prescribed to treat UC flares and/or to induce and maintain remission. They are believed to have an effect on inflammation in UC.
Patients may have surgery of the colon. During surgery all or part of the colon may be removed. This surgery is called a colectomy. A colectomy is generally used for the most serious cases of UC that do not respond to medical treatment, or when complications, such as perforations, happen. While this approach may sound scary, some people with UC have had colectomies and, with proper management, are usually able to return to their daily activities. If a colectomy is suggested for you, ask for all the details and talk to people who have had this surgery.