About Colitis Medication

Colitis, also commonly called ulcerative colitis, is a disease that affects the bowels. Colitis results in inflammation of the lining of the large intestine, the colon and the rectum in the majority of cases. Symptoms include abdominal pain from severe cramping, blood in the stool (which can become very loose) and loss of weight. The medications used to treat colitis focus on improving the symptoms, as there is no cure.


Colitis patients commonly use anti-inflammatory medications to treat their symptoms. However, anti-inflammatory medications come with significant side effects, such as vomiting, heartburn, nausea and headaches. Sulfasalazine, mesalamine and olsalazine can all reduce the inflammation of the colon from colitis, and can be taken in pill form, in enemas and as suppositories. Balsalazide is another colitis medication that aims to stop colon swelling. Anti-inflammatory drugs, like most colitis medications, are often used in conjunction with other treatments.


Corticosteroids are utilized to battle the symptoms of colitis, but are not effective for everyone. They are an option when the colitis is moderate to severe and has not been contained by other medications and treatments. Corticosteroids will bring inflammations under control, but their side effects include puffiness in the face area, sweating at night, insomnia, raised blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and even bone fractures and cataracts. They are not meant to be used over a long period of time, with a 3- to 4-month window usually the longest they will be employed against colitis.


Some colitis medications are used to suppress the immune system, as there is evidence that the inflammation is the result of the immune system’s reaction in the digestive tract. Immunosuppressants such as Azathioprine and mercaptopurine are two of the drugs used for this, with side effects such as liver and pancreatic inflammation, and allergic reactions. Cyclosporine is a powerful medication and is reserved for the worst cases of colitis due to its potent side effects. Infliximab is a special immune system suppressor for people who have not been helped by other methods of treatment.


Some colitis sufferers that used to smoke find that nicotine patches give them relief from colitis symptoms for short periods of time. The reason for this is not clear, and it by no means suggests that someone with colitis should begin smoking as a treatment for the disease. Drugs designed to reduce or stop diarrhea, a classic colitis symptom, can add mass to a person’s stool and help this problem. Metamucil and Citrucel are commonly used for this purpose.


There are other types of medications for some of the symptoms of colitis. Laxatives are needed when colitis causes the colon to narrow to the point that stool has difficulty passing through it. Pain relievers such as Tylenol can be beneficial in treating cramping pain in the abdomen from colitis, but those that contain anti-inflammatory drugs should be avoided since they can make things worse. Supplemental iron can be effective in preventing the anemia that can sometimes result when intestinal bleeding takes place.