What is ulcerative colitis?
Ulcerative colitis belongs to a group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Ulcerative colitis is characterized by continuous segments of inflammation in the large intestine (colon) and the rectum. Only the innermost layer of the intestinal wall is affected.
In ulcerative colitis, the body’s immune system inappropriately targets the body’s healthy cells, thus signaling the body to attack them. This results in inflammation that can significantly affect a child’s quality of life.
Ulcerative colitis may affect as many as 907,000 Americans. It affects both males and females equally. Most are diagnosed in their mid-30s, but the disease can occur at any age and is becoming more common in children.
Why Choose Us?
The Center for Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is one of the largest centers of its kind in the United States. Significant breakthroughs in the treatment of IBD have happened right here.
Treatment for ulcerative colitis
The treatment for ulcerative colitis is complex and may be different for every child, but the main goals are the same: to relieve symptoms, prevent flares, and achieve mucosal healing (healing of the intestine) and remission. There is no “one size fits all” treatment for ulcerative colitis, and children respond to therapy differently. Using a combination of medication, nutritional therapy, and in more severe cases, surgery, we aim to promote each child’s quality of life without limiting their goals or dreams.
Primary treatment for ulcerative colitis includes medications. Those most often used in the treatment of ulcerative colitis are 5-aminosalicylates, corticosteroids, antibiotics, and medications that alter the immune system, called immunomodulators or biologics.
When treating ulcerative colitis with medications, our goals are to suppress inflammation, heal tissue, and relieve symptoms.
Diet plays a big role in the treatment of ulcerative colitis. It is essential to maintain good nutrition because it helps the body to heal and grow. Weight loss is a common symptom of ulcerative colitis, and weight gain is a goal of treatment. Research supports the role of nutrition in treatment for ulcerative colitis. There is not one specific diet for ulcerative colitis. We have IBD dietitians who work closely with families in nutritional support.
Even with proper medication and diet, some children require surgery to attain the best possible quality of life. The decision to proceed with surgery is made in collaboration between the child and family, the gastroenterologist, and the surgeon specializing in IBD. Surgery is used to relieve severe, ongoing symptoms and to help children achieve growth and weight gain when medical management is no longer effective on its own. Unlike Crohn’s disease, in which surgery is a temporary solution, surgery can provide long-term relief with ulcerative colitis.
There are multiple surgical options for the treatment of ulcerative colitis. At the Center for Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease, our team will work closely with your family to determine if surgery is necessary. And our expert surgeons who specialize in IBD-related procedures will provide additional information and work to optimize your child’s quality of life.