Ulcerative colitis is defined as a lingering condition affecting the lining of the colon with periods free from any symptoms followed by flare-ups. The condition can detrimentally affect the qualify of life and daily functioning.
Close look on an ulcerative colitis flare-up
An ulcerative colitis flare-up is an acute worsening of the signs of bowel inflammation. It is characterized by debilitating symptoms such as:
- Moderate to intense abdominal pain or cramps that could not be eased by commonly used pain or antispasmodic drugs.
- Bleeding from the rectum or blood-streaked stool
- Inability to achieve a satisfactory bowel movement
- Moderate to severe diarrhea that can result to dehydration in serious cases
- Weight loss due to appetite loss and diarrheal symptoms
- Nutritional issues from frequent and serious flaring
Every individual with ulcerative colitis has various triggers. Some of the common triggers include:
- Certain drugs can affect the natural balance of the gut flora by eliminating both good and bad bacteria. These drugs include broad-spectrum antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- Sudden withdrawal from drugs especially if using steroids or maintenance therapies.
- Alterations in the level of hormones during pregnancy can result to a relapse of symptoms or acute flare-ups.
- Any ailment or infection that disrupts with the level of electrolytes in the body can also trigger flare-ups of ulcerative colitis.
Remember that corticosteroids are useful in stopping flare-ups of ulcerative colitis such as prednisone and budesonide.
The main categories of the drug utilized for treatment include:
- Steroids – these are given orally or intravenously or as an enema to suppress the immune system inflammation.
- 5-Aminosalicylates – this drug is released in various parts of the digestive tract which aims on reducing the inflammation directly in the colon wall
- Antibiotics – these are given if the contributing factor to the flare-ups are infections
- Immunomodulators – these include drugs such as methotrexate which work on the immune system by modifying its activity to lessen the inflammatory response
- Biologics – these drugs work on the immune system against the inflammatory protein TNF-alpha