Treating UC symptoms at the source
To get ahead of UC symptoms, first you have to know what’s behind them. UC symptoms are linked to excess inflammation that causes damage to your colon lining.
Controlling inflammation over time can help reduce UC symptoms such as frequent and urgent bowel movements, bloody stools, and abdominal pain. Controlling inflammation can also help repair the colon lining.
Controlling inflammation to help repair your colon lining and improve your symptoms is a goal of UC treatment.
UC treatments are designed to control the excess inflammation in your colon. When inflammation is suppressed, it can help relieve common UC symptoms, achieve and maintain remission, and also help heal the tissue in your colon lining.
While many UC treatments are designed to control excess inflammation, some treatments work in different ways than others. You and your doctor should discuss all treatment options and considerations to find the one that may be right for you.
What is remission?
When your UC is in remission, it means you are experiencing no symptoms. If you think about all the ways UC symptoms may be impacting your life, it’s easy to see why achieving and maintaining remission is so important.
The 3 key goals of UC treatment
There are treatments available that can help control excess inflammation in order to help you:
Controlling inflammation can help relieve UC symptoms such as frequent and urgent bowel movements, bloody stools, and abdominal pain.
Controlling inflammation can also help you achieve and maintain remission. This means you have achieved ongoing symptom relief and are able to prevent flares.
Controlling inflammation over time allows the lining of the colon to heal and can help you maintain remission.
UC treatment options at a glance
The most commonly used treatments for UC:
These drugs, given orally or rectally, are anti-inflammatory compounds that contain 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA). They decrease inflammation at the wall of the intestine. Examples of 5-ASAs include sulfasalazine, balsalazide, mesalamine, and olsalazine.
Metronidazole, ciprofloxacin, and other antibiotics may be used when infections occur, or to treat complications of ulcerative colitis.
Biologics for UC are designed to suppress the immune system to reduce inflammation. Certain biologics work by targeting specific inflammatory proteins called cytokines that play a role in inflammation. Others work by preventing certain white blood cells from getting into inflamed tissues.
Prednisone, prednisolone, and budesonide are included in this type of medication. They affect the body’s ability to initiate and maintain an inflammatory process—keeping the immune system in check. While effective for short-term flare-ups, they’re not recommended for long-term use.
These modify the body’s immune system activity to stop it from causing ongoing inflammation These drugs (including azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine [6-MP], and methotrexate) are usually used for people who have responded only to steroids.
These are pills that can help control inflammation in UC by targeting and blocking specific parts of the immune system. Due to their small size, they can be transported nearly anywhere in the body to work directly on the immune system. This category of medications includes JAK inhibitors and S1P receptor modulators, which work within specific cells to stop signals that can lead to excess inflammation.
Finding the right UC treatment for you
Keep in mind that there’s no one treatment that will work for everyone. Each UC patient is different, and their treatment should be individualized for their unique needs.
In order to determine the right treatment approach for you, your doctor will consider several factors, such as:
- Where is the inflammation located in your body?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- Have your UC symptoms changed or gotten worse over time?
- Are you experiencing new or worsening symptoms on your current treatment?
- What other diseases or medical conditions do you have?
- Have you had success with your UC medication?
Start the conversation
Remember, you are your own best advocate. So don’t hesitate to discuss your symptoms and goals. Here are 3 tips for having a productive treatment conversation at your next doctor’s visit:
Set clear treatment goals with your doctor
Openly communicate with your doctor about your symptoms
Ask about treatment options that may be right for you
Think about these topics in advance, so you’re better prepared for the discussion.
What about surgery for UC?
Medication is often the first treatment option for UC. But there are cases in which people with UC might require surgery. For example, surgery may be needed when complications arise from damage to the colon. Complications can include bleeding, abnormal growths, or precancerous lesions. Surgery in UC usually involves removal of the colon and rectum. This is called a proctocolectomy and can take different forms.
Surgery may not be a cure-all for UC symptoms. Individuals can still have symptoms that need to be well managed following surgery.
Keep in mind that it is possible to find a treatment that can help you achieve remission without surgery.
Get a Restroom Access Card* and helpful info
Have a discreet way to ask for access to restricted restrooms if you have symptoms. And get updates, resources and more sent to your inbox.
*Eligibility restricted to patients diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Available as a card and mobile wallet version for your phone.
Is it time to make a personalized action plan?
See how much time your disease is impacting you. Answer 5 quick questions and get 3 customized, timely steps to help you and your doctor take action with your disease.