Ulcerative Colitis Treatment

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There are two main goals when it comes to treating ulcerative colitis. The first goal is to control the symptoms that are present. The second goal is to prevent those symptoms from coming back.

Ulcerative colitis has a very frustrating pattern of flare-ups and remissions. Remission can be achieved by using all the resources at your disposal.


Diet — Generally speaking, a well-balanced, nutritious diet can help maintain health with disease control. While there is no specific type of diet that has been proven to relieve symptoms in ulcerative colitis, you might notice that certain foods seem to make symptoms worse. For example, some people feel better if they avoid dairy foods like milk, yogurt, and cheese. If this is your experience, it is reasonable to avoid the foods that exacerbate your symptoms. Aim to do so without restricting nutrients. If you are struggling with this, speak to your doctor – you may also benefit from seeing a dietician.


Treatment for mild to moderate symptoms — If your symptoms include rectal pain, rectal bleeding and mild diarrhea, your treatment will likely include topical medication that you apply directly to the rectum. 

If symptoms do not improve after several weeks, your doctor  might recommend adding other medication.

Most people will experience symptom improvement soon after beginning treatment and complete symptom relief after about four to six weeks. After feeling better, it is important to continue taking your medication as prescribed to avoid future flare-ups.

Treatment for severe symptoms — If your symptoms are more severe (six or more episodes of bloody diarrhea per day and often accompanied by other symptoms), your doctor will probably prescribe oral steroid medication or a biologic therapy (adalimumab).

Oral glucocorticoids – Glucocorticoids cannot be used chronically. The dose needs to be gradually reduced once symptoms have improved. 

Biologics – Biologics are medications that work by interfering with pathways involved in inflammation. It also promotes healing of the inflamed colon. These are used in other autoimmune diseases too.

It is important to understand what your medication does and the potential side effects. If you believe you might be experiencing side effects, contact your doctor and let him/her know your concerns.


Written by Dr Ruusa Shivute | Health Window

Reference: Adams SM, Bornemann PH. Ulcerative colitis. Am Fam Physician. 2013 May 15;87(10):699-705.

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