How is ulcerative colitis treated?
Drug treatment is aimed at treating attacks of colitis and prolonging or maintaining periods of remission. The drugs most commonly used to treat ulcerative colitis include sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), mesalamine (Asacol, Apriso), olsalazine (Dipentum) or balsalazide (Colazal). They are usually given in tablet or capsule form. Some of these may also be prescribed as suppositories or enemas. Steroids such as hydrocortisone may also be given directly into the rectum via suppository. If an attack of ulcerative colitis is very severe, hospitalization may be necessary. Steroids (such as methylprednisolone [Solu-Medrol]) may be given by injection along with fluids if dehydration is a problem.

Infliximab (Remicade) is a newer treatment that may be used in people with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis not controlled by other treatments or in people who cannot take other treatments for some reason. Infliximab is given by intravenous infusion. In some cases, azathioprine (Azasan) (a drug that suppresses the immune system) may be given to maintain remission.

If drug treatment does not control the symptoms sufficiently, surgery to remove the affected part of the colon may be carried out. This is fairly extensive and may require the formation of a colostomy on the outside of the body. Therefore, surgery is only carried out in patients with poorly controlled or complicated ulcerative colitis.

Further information
Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America: www.ccfa.org/what-are-crohns-and-colitis/what-is-ulcerative-colitis/

Last Reviewed: May 2013