Ulcerative colitis – Symptoms, causes, and therapy
Ulcerative colitis is a subtype of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) that triggers ulcers and inflammation in the large intestine’s lining. Though it can happen to anyone, people between the ages of 15 and 30 are at higher risk of getting UC. It is a chronic condition, and a person diagnosed with UC may need therapy and care for a long time. Stelara is a prescription used to treat Ulcerative Colitis effectively.
Common symptoms of UC include abdominal pain, frequent diarrhea with blood or pus, rectal bleeding, bloody stools, sudden urgency to pass stools, inability to pass stools despite the urge, fever, and growth problems in children.
Though health experts have been unable to isolate a specific cause of UC, genetics, our body’s immunity response, and in many cases, our lifestyle and environment can lead to UC. In case of frequent symptoms, doctors will diagnose UC using blood and stool tests to identify the cause. If they notice abnormalities, they may further confirm the diagnosis by performing an endoscopy of the large intestine. They will also conduct imaging tests to determine the location and size of the inflammation. Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition, and patients may go through a flare-up of symptoms and require hospitalization.
Untreated Ulcerative Colitis can lead to multiple complications, like bleeding, dehydration, swelling or a hole in the colon, risk of blood clots in arteries and veins, inflammation in eyes, joints, and skin, skin cancer, and osteoporosis.
Patients with UC may isolate themselves from social functions as they are unsure when they may have a flare-up. They avoid putting themselves in embarrassing situations and need to be close to a restroom all the time. They will be extra conscious while eating as food can contain a UC trigger. They lose their appetite and, consequently, eat less and may become dehydrated. Stress and depression are also common in patients with UC. The goal of therapy is, therefore, to manage the symptoms well and stop frequent flare-ups, and also to prevent complications in the long term. Doctors treat UC with prescription, surgery, or both depending on the severity of the inflammation, the frequency of flare-ups, and the patient’s overall health. Prescriptions for UC may have severe side effects; hence, health experts will discuss the different options before starting therapy. Commonly used remedies for UC are anti-inflammatory prescriptions, corticosteroids, immunosuppressant prescriptions, biologics, anti-diarrheal prescriptions, antispasmodics, and pain relievers. For those with severe symptoms and where prescriptions do not work, doctors may perform a proctocolectomy to remove your colon and rectum. They create a pouch at the end of the small intestine and attach it to your anus. If this is not possible, they make a permanent opening in your abdomen and attach a bag that collects the stools. Consult your doctor before opting for any treatment option.
Biologics are becoming a popular and effective remedy for inflammatory diseases. Biologics are remedies developed from proteins, blood, viruses, or other living organisms. Stelara is one option that effectively resists plaque psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. Stelara is the only FDA-approved remedy for targeting two proteins, interleukin 12 (IL-12) and interleukin 23 (IL23), two naturally occurring proteins that trigger inflammation. Stelara can be administered to children above the age of six and adults. However, the doctor will determine the duration of the therapy.
How is Stelara administered?
Stelara is administered intravenously under the skin through a one-time IV infusion. Doctors decide on the dosage based on your body weight. It may take about an hour to receive the entire dosage, and you will receive it once every eight weeks. In the first year of therapy, you will receive six doses. You can get the treatment at a physician’s office or your home under the supervision of a certified healthcare professional. The therapy will be continued in the second year after evaluating your symptoms.
Before starting on Stelara, discuss with your doctor about possible side effects. Inform them about any recent bacterial, viral, or fungal infections, flu, diarrhea, or recent pains and aches that you may have had. A doctor needs to know if you have TB, are at risk of TB, or have been in contact with a person with TB. Doctors test a patient for TB before administering Stelara. They also talk to patients in detail, inform them about possible mild or severe side effects, and advise them about situations when they may need attention. Mild side effects may pass within a few days or weeks from the injection time. Some mild side effects of Stelara include abdominal pain, nasal congestion, running nose, common cold, bronchitis, joint pain, discoloration or redness at the injection spot, fatigue, headache, itching, nausea, vaginal yeast infection, and urinary tract infection. Though rare, Stelara may also cause serious side effects that need immediate attention. They include lung inflammation, cancer, allergic reactions like swelling in the eyelids, face, tongue, and throat, rashes, chest tightening, pneumonia, and swelling in the brain, known as Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome (PRES).
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