TREATMENT FOR ULCERATIVE COLITIS
Ulcerative colitis is usually treated with anti-inflammatory drugs based on various preparations of the drug 5-ASA (Pentasa, Asacol and Dipentum), usually in tablet form. These drugs reduce the inflammation in the colon and are usually continued long term since they have been shown to reduce the likelihood of recurrence. Steroidal anti-inflammatory tablets or enemas (e.g. prednisone) may be prescribed in severe cases. Follow up sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy is usually carried out to see if the colon is still inflamed.
Your practice nurse or doctor will give you advice concerning nutrition and healthy eating habits. You may be asked to keep a diary of your daily food and drink intake to see which foods may be making your colitis symptoms worse. Raw fruits and vegetables can be avoided to limit abrasion to the inflamed lining of the colon and this may result in reduced symptoms. A milk-free diet may decrease symptoms in some patients, but need not be continued if no benefit is apparent. When well there is no reason to avoid certain foods and it is important to eat a full and varied diet.
Mild to moderate ulcerative colitis does not usually require hospital treatment. Severe ulcerative colitis or disease which does not respond to drug treatment, may mean that an operation to remove the colon is necessary. Nearly one third of all patients with extensive ulcerative colitis ultimately require surgery. When performed in time, removal of the colon is curative. Normal life expectancy and quality of life are restored.
A GUIDE FOR PATIENTS WITH ULCERATIVE COLITIS
This guide enables patients with ulcerative colitis to record the details of your health on the same points-system as your medical team is likely to use and is called “How to complete your own Simple Clinical Colitis Activity Index
The idea is that, before appointments, you can fill it in with the details about your symptoms that the medical team are likely to ask about. Or, if you think that your colitis is flaring up, you could fill it in at home to verify this and then, if you need to seek medical help, you have got the information that the medical team will need to be able to take care of you. Our thanks go to Dr Russell Walmsley of North Shore Hospital for his work on this.