The goal in treating ulcerative colitis (UC) is to achieve a remission of symptoms and prevent flare-ups. One of the newer classes of medications in the arsenal is biologics. These medications have shown to be very helpful in controlling UC symptoms over time by reducing the inflammation in the intestines and colon. Long-term treatment has many benefits to patients with UC. Currently the biologics for ulcerative colitis are injected, but an oral medication is under study. Below are some of the benefits to using biologics long term.
Long term prevention of flare-ups has been seen in patients on biologics. Up to four years of remission was seen in one study of patients. Having fewer flare-ups can be life-changing for patients with UC. Fewer flare-ups help reduce financial expenses involving hospitalizations, doctor appointments, and treatment.
Lowered rates of hospitalization for any reason have been shown in patients that added a biologic to their long-term UC treatment plan. The remissions from long term biologic use also reduced the need for surgery in those patients. Reducing these kind of complications is key in maintaining the overall health of UC patients.
Better nutritional status
Diarrhea, mucosal inflammation and weight loss is often seen with UC and can cause huge problems with nutritional status–and even stunt growth in children. With long-term remissions, the gut is no longer in an uproar and patients are able to eat normally. This is hugely important in maintaining adequate nutritional status and enjoying healthy foods again.
It can be next to impossible to get adequate rest when you are constantly in pain and running to the restroom. Sleep disturbances can cause huge issues in both the physical and emotional state of patients. It makes everyday tasks like driving downright dangerous. In fact, sleep disturbances can even make inflammation worse. With UC symptoms controlled, sleep can be returned to normal.
Better quality of life
Patients whose UC is in remission are able to participate in things that their symptoms may not have allowed them to do while they were sick. Working, exercising, and traveling can all be difficult when you have to plan your day around pain and restroom visits. Being able to go back to all of those things that were pushed to the side during painful flare-ups greatly improves quality of life for patients with UC.
__See more helpful articles: __
Jennifer Rackley is a nutritionist and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.