What Treatment Options Are Available?
Some milder symptoms can be managed with anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, or immunosuppressant medications. Lifestyle choices can also affect flare-ups. Stress or diet could be influential in how often episodes of inflammation occur. Moderate or severe symptoms may warrant a more invasive intervention. These might involve options like:
- An ileal pouch anal anastomosis
- An ileal stoma
- A proctocolectomy
When an ileal pouch anal anastomosis is recommended, the surgeon attaches a pouch to the anus during a restorative proctocolectomy. The pouch, created using a portion of the small intestine, serves as a place to collect waste in a discreet manner. A bowel movement can typically be done in the usual way with this option. In circumstances where this isn’t recommended, patients may benefit from an ileal stoma. A bag, an external ileostomy pouch, is placed over a permanent opening, the ileal stoma, made in the abdomen. The pouch is designed to collect waste.
A traditional proctocolectomy is generally reserved for severe cases, such as when complications become potentially life-threatening, and involves the removal of the rectum and colon. The way each person will manage the removal of waste from the body is determined on the factors involved in each case but will generally warrant an internal or external pouch for collection.
Though flare-ups of ulcerative colitis can vary in frequency and noticeable symptoms, managing them might bring about remission. Bringing any concerns an individual might have regarding persistent and unusual GI symptoms to the attention of a physician is the first step toward taking a proactive measure toward treatment and recovery.