When flare-ups occur, medical treatment is necessary to control the inflammation that is triggering your symptoms. In more severe cases, when there is massive bleeding, rupture of the colon, risk of cancer or your condition is not responding to medical therapy, you might need surgery. About 30 percent of people with ulcerative colitis will require surgery. This involves removing the colon and rectum, which cures the ulcerative colitis and eliminates the threat of cancer.
There are four types of drugs that are used to treat the inflammation from ulcerative colitis: aminosalicylates, corticosteroids (often referred to as "steroids"), immunomodulators and biologics.
Over-the-counter alternatives can help treat some of the milder symptoms. For diarrhea, Immodium or Metamucil can help, and acetaminophen can alleviate pain. Ibuprofen and naproxen can actually worsen the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, so these should not be taken for pain.
You might receive antibiotics if you have a fever and your doctor suspects an infection. Iron supplements can be used to prevent anemia. Some herbal supplements that might help include fish oils, probiotics and Boswellia. Aloe vera has not been proven to be effective for ulcerative colitis.
Note: This article was originally published on July 11, 2011 on PharmacyTimes.com. It has been edited and republished by U.S. News.