Ulcerative Colitis Medications
Ulcerative colitis disease affects about 500,000 people in the United States alone and affecting approximately 65000 Canadians.
It seems to be more prevalent in women than in men. The cause or causes are unknown. Treatment for the disease typically includes one of the ulcerative colitis medications, as well as alternative or complimentary therapies. Choosing an ulcerative colitis medication depends on known allergies and how much of or to what extent the colon is inflamed.
One ulcerative colitis medication that has been used for over thirty years is an aminosalicylate. There are many brand names. These medications are considered effective treatments for Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis disease.
Sulfasalazine is another one of the ulcerative colitis medications. It is used to treat mild to moderate Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis disease. Studies show that this ulcerative colitis medication is effective 80% of the time when used regularly to prevent flare-ups. However, those who are allergic to sulfa drugs cannot take sulfasalaine. Most people who cannot take sulfasalazine can take mesalamine, olsalazine or balsalazide.
The aminosalicylates used to treat ulcerative colitis include the following:
- Mesalazine, also known as 5-aminosalicylic acid, mesalamine, or 5-ASA. Brand names include: Asacol, Octasa, Pentasa, Salofalk, Lialda, Ipocol and Mezavant.
- Sulfasalazine, also known as Azulfidine. This drug belongs a traditional class of antibiotics, but decomposes in the intestine, releasing 5-ASA.
- Balsalazide, also known as Colazal, intended to release 5-ASA only in the large intestine.
- Olsalazine, also known as Dipentum, intended to release 5-ASA only in the large intestine.
The following corticosteroids are used as immune system suppressants in treatment of ulcerative colitis:
- Budesonide, also known as Entocort, available for oral use or as an enema. Budesonide is metabolized faster than traditional steroids and appears to produce fewer side effects.
Immunosuppressive drugs inhibit the immune system generally. These include the cytostatic drugs that inhibit cell division, including the cloning of white blood cells that is a part of the immune response. Immunosuppressive drugs used with ulcerative colitis include:
- Mercaptopurine, also known as 6-Mercaptopurine, 6-MP and Purinethiol.
- Azathioprine, also known as Imuran (US) or Azasan, which metabolises to 6-MP.
- Methotrexate, which inhibits folic acid
An ulcerative colitis medication is typically prescribed to put the disease into remission, meaning to prevent recurring symptoms. Ulcerative colitis disease is chronic. The only known cure is surgery to remove all or part of the colon. Those with mild to moderate symptoms are typically successful using ulcerative colitis medications and/or alternative or supplemental therapies.
As with any prescription drugs, ulcerative colitis medications cause side effects in some people. These side effects may include nauseau, vomiting, diarrhea and headache. One ulcerative colitis medication, sulfasalazine, may reduce sperm count in men while they are taking it. These and other side effects often send people looking for other choices.
Botanicals such as aloe is often recommended as a supplement to ulcerative colitis medication. One study suggests that omega-3 supplementation may reduce the need for ulcerative colitis medications.
Chripractic treatments have been effective for some people in reducing the symptoms of ulcerative colitis disease. Massage therapy and acupuncture have providing relief for some who suffer from the disease.
Avoiding certain products that contain caffeine, alcohol and anything that may have a laxative effect is typically recommended for persons using ulcerative colitis medication. These products can worsen symptoms and side effects.
Many people who have ulcerative colitis disease have found that following a special diet has relieved their symptoms. Some report that their need for ulcerative colitis medications has been reduced.
Others claim that they do not need any ulcerative colitis medication at all, as long as they follow their special diet. Most people who make these claims are either selling a cookbook, newsletter or special report.
This is not to say that their claims are false, but if your doctor has prescribed an ulcerative colitis medication for you, it is not wise to stop taking it, no matter what other therapies you are trying, without consulting with him/her first.