Ulcerative Colitis - Treatment

The first step in treating ulcerative colitis is to reduce inflammation. A drug known as sulfasalazine (pronounced SULL-fuh-SAL-uh-zeen) is used for this purpose. Sulfasalazine consists of two parts. One part is a form of salicylic acid, the major component of aspirin. The salicylic acid compound helps reduce inflammation. The second part of sulfasalazine is an antibiotic. The antibiotic kills any harmful bacteria that may be present in the intestine.

A specimen of a colon with ulcerative colitis. (Reproduced by permission of Photo Researchers, Inc.)
A specimen of a colon with ulcerative colitis. (Reproduced by permission of
Photo Researchers, Inc.

Complications caused by ulcerative colitis may require other treatments. For example, a patient with toxic dilation of the colon may require hospitalization. The patient may be given steroids and antibiotics intravenously (through a needle in the vein). Steroids are a powerful anti-inflammatory medication. In the most severe cases, surgery may be required to remove the colon.

Colon cancer is treated in much the same way as other forms of cancer: with surgery, radiation treatments, or chemotherapy.

Alternative Treatment

There are natural remedies that may help reduce inflammation associated with ulcerative colitis. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oil and flaxseed, are available in pill form or as enemas.

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