Treatment for Ulcerative Colitis
Treating colitis really depends on the patient, their symptoms, and where or how the disease is affecting the bowel. The goal is to achieve remission and relieve symptoms with your treatment for colitis. This means talking with your doctor about medications, natural treatments, and surgery if necessary.
In some cases, ulcerative colitis is cured by removing the damaged portion of the intestine, therefore removing the disease. However, extra intestinal symptoms and inflammation in the rest of the body may return. As a result, treatment for ulcerative colitis includes an array of choices and steps to control the disease and discomfort.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treatment
Medication for Ulcerative Colitis
Since the symptoms of colitis (and crohn’s) are sometimes mistaken with infections antibiotics are the first course of action in most cases. Also, infections in people with IBD are common. Antibiotics for ibd related intestinal infections are used as needed.
The most common antibiotics for IBD are:
- Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
- Metronidazole (Flagyl)
- Xifaxan (Rifaximin)
Antibiotics for IBD work to relieve symptoms since they are getting rid of bacteria in the gut. Very often, patients have a bacterial overgrowth so the antibiotic helps clear it out. Usually, when antibiotics are used to manage colitis it is Ciprofloxacin and Metronidazole, or a combination of the two. In addition, Rifaximin is commonly prescribed for IBD and other digestive disorders such as SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and IBS.
Antibiotics and IBD – treatment, not a cure
Antibiotics for colitis are not a long term solution because symptoms may return after treatment. Also, the problem becomes bigger because the antibiotic wiped out the good and bad bacteria, (some of which we need both of) and now the gut flora needs to be repopulated. At the same the antibiotic can be damaging the mucous layer by tearing at the one cell thin gut lining causing leaky gut.
Steroids (corticosteroids) are prescribed as Inflammatory Bowel Disease treatment for Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. Prednisone is the most commonly administered steroid for inflammation. Some patients find relief, while others prefer to stay away because of the long term side effects. “Moon face” is the most common side effect of Prednisone. The face takes on a very round and plump appearance in some cases. Other side effects of steroids include: weight gain, infection, headache, restlessness, and vision problems. Vision problems include cataracts, glaucoma, and blurred vision. In most cases, nausea, vomiting, and weight gain with fatigue and dizziness are the most popular side effects.
Immunomodulators, are immune modifiers that suppress the body’s natural reactions. They can either be administered orally or rectally. They suppress the immune system preventing it from triggering inflammatory responses. The problem with immune modifiers is the list of side effects. These include fatigue, bone pain, appetite loss, chills, headache. On the other hand, this medication can suppress the symptoms that interfere with daily activities and bring relief to the patient.
Aminosalicylates are also one of the first treatment options for ulcerative colitis. These anti-inflammatories include sulfasalazine and oral formulations of mesalamine. They are often referred as 5 ASA. Oral aminosalicylates are used to treat mild to moderate extensive disease (pancolitis). They can be inserted through enema or suppository, however the disease must exist in the lower intestine.
Biologics, anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) agents are an increasingly common treatment for colitis. The process is more simple that it seems, only requiring infusions or injections. When the disease is aggressive or other medications have failed Humira, Remicade, Cimzia, Simponi, and Inflectra are the most common treatments. The CCFA states the side effects of biologics include increased risk of cancer, infection, arthritis, liver disease, and heart failure.
Non steroidal anti-inflammatories
This group of medication for Colitis and Crohn’s is fairly common. These are one of the most common self treatments for colitis and crohn’s because they can serve as pain relievers for IBD. Stay away from anti inflammatories as much as possible because of the dangers associated with their consumption. Basically, these can provide a quick fix but really damage the gut and cause added damage to other parts of the body as well.
Common NSAID’s for IBD
- Naproxen (Aleve)
- Ibuprofen (Tylenol)
Risks and dangers of NSAID’s for IBD
NSAID’s are not the solution for colitis. For instance, Aleve, Ibuprofen (Tylenol), Celebrex, Motrin, etc.) are all known as IBD risk factors. These can cause a relapse in colitis or IBD symtpoms by causing further damage to the intestinal surface. In addition, taking NSAID’s for IBD is dangerous since it puts an added stress on a usually already suffering liver.
- liver damage
- intestinal perforation
- internal bleeding
- allergic reactions
- brain damage
- heart failure
Over The Counter Ulcerative Colitis Medication
Taking OTC medications for ulcerative colitis is a quick fix for most people. Usually, the most common over the counter products for self treatment are pain relievers, laxatives or antidiarrheals. However, OTC medicine is not a treatment option, especially as long term colitis management. Actually, you can harm your intestine more than it already is and create further colitis complications. Stick to over the counter only when necessary and consult with your doctor.
Surgery for ulcerative colitis
Surgery is another way of treating IBD. Some people prefer surgery because they felt too many sides effects from the medication. Other times, the medication or treatment may not be helping. About 1/3 of the people with colitis will need surgery at some point during their life. The surgery repairs or removes part of the damaged intestine. See our article on the types of surgeries for colitis and IBD.
Natural treatment for ulcerative colitis
Natural treatment for ulcerative colitis is an alternative among patients. There are several popular options to naturally treat ulcerative colitis.
- Fermented Foods
- Animal Fats
- Leaky Gut Treatment
- IBD Protocols
Enemas are one of the oldest and most common methods for treating colitis. Understanding how enemas work helps make them less intimidating for the patient. In addition, note that you don’t have to go anywhere for enemas as ibd treatment. You can perform this at home or with a medical professional alike. They provide relief for painful constipation and help clear out the bowels and flush the rest of the digestive system including the gall bladder and liver. You can read a break down of how enemas work for IBD and the safe ways to use them here.
- water enema
- coffee enema
- saline (salt) rinse
Natural remedies for Ulcerative Colitis
Treatment for ulcerative colitis is extremely varied. Naturally, patients find natural solutions or remedies that help with symptoms. For example, herbal teas, detox baths, healthier eating habits and colitis treatment diets are a few of the most common at home remedies for colitis. These are usually easy to follow and do not guarantee recovery because everybody has different symptoms, risk factors, and flare triggers.
Colitis treatment diets
In reality, there’s no doubt that nutritional deficiencies can cause and worsen IBD and flares. As a result, another of the most common forms of treating colitis among patients is through diet. These vary among patient preference and symptoms.
- Casein & gluten free
- Traditional diet (WAPF)
- our own IBD Certified Protocol