As many as 900,000 Americans have ulcerative colitis (UC), a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the colon (large intestine) and rectum. While UC can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes, surgery is sometimes necessary to prevent further complications.
A top provider of ulcerative colitis treatment in Las Vegas, Nevada, Desert West Surgery offers a full spectrum of treatment options for people with ulcerative colitis, including medication, noninvasive therapies, and ulcerative colitis surgery. In this post, learn more about UC treatment, including when surgery is recommended and what it involves.
Ulcerative colitis: The basics
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are two inflammatory conditions that make up inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The primary difference is that while UC affects the colon and rectum, Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the digestive system. Each disease can affect different layers of tissue, as well.
In UC, symptoms usually begin in the rectum. Over time, inflammation may (or may not) spread to the colon. People with UC typically have periods of remission when symptoms are very mild, followed by a more active phase when symptoms flare up.
UC causes a variety of symptoms, including:
- Weight loss
- Bloody or mucousy stools
- Pus in the stool
- Fecal incontinence
- Increased urgency to move your bowels
In more severe cases, the sores that form in the colon can bleed uncontrollably, a life-threatening complication that requires emergency medical care.
UC treatment options
In most cases, medication is the first option for managing UC symptoms and preventing complications. By reducing UC symptoms, patients enjoy greater comfort and improved quality of life.
Various medicines can be used to treat UC, including medications to relieve pain, reduce swelling and inflammation, and help your bowel tissue heal. Other medicines help manage diarrhea, cramping, and other symptoms, while some focus on modulating the immune response that may be playing a role.
Because there’s no cure for UC, you’ll need regular office visits and checkups to ensure your therapy stays on track. During your visit, we can adjust your dose or try alternative medication to find a solution that works for you.
Surgery for UC
Surgery usually is reserved for people with more severe or complicated cases of UC when more conservative therapies aren’t effective. That includes people who:
- Are unable to tolerate medicines used in UC treatment
- Have severe or uncontrollable bleeding
- Have or are at risk for colon perforation
- Have colon cancer or “precancer”
- Develop a life-threatening complication called toxic megacolon
Surgery may also be an option for patients whose UC symptoms dramatically alter their quality of life.
Our team uses different surgical approaches, selecting the optimal approach based on factors like the location of colon damage, the extent of damage, and other issues. Before surgery, we discuss each patient’s options and the long-term effects of the surgery, which could include using an ostomy pouch to store stool until it can be disposed of.
Get help for your UC symptoms
Ulcerative colitis is a serious medical condition that affects people in different ways. To learn how we can help you manage your symptoms and prevent further damage, call Desert West Surgery and schedule a visit at the Las Vegas location nearest you.