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Conditions

Treatment Options

The Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program at Temple Health is led by experienced, board-certified gastroenterologists who are committed to delivering the latest advances in care to individuals with ulcerative colitis.

Today, treatment for ulcerative colitis focuses on several goals:

  • Relieve symptoms
  • Reduce frequency of flare-ups
  • Prevent or treat serious complications
  • Correct nutritional deficiencies
  • Gain control over the disease
  • Feel better

Treatment may include a combination of medication, diet modification, lifestyle changes, and if necessary – surgery. Surgery may be required for moderate to severe cases of ulcerative colitis. At Temple Health, we offer a wide range of surgical options to help treat and manage your condition, from minimally invasive procedures to advanced surgeries that remove all or portions of the affected gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Medication

Today, there are many options that can help manage ulcerative colitis, which may include:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs – Certain anti-inflammatories can help treat mild or moderate episodes of ulcerative colitis and prevent flare-ups.
  • Nutritional supplements – Supplements – including probiotics, calcium, vitamin D, folic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, iron and zinc – can help ensure your body is receiving adequate nutrition and may even help reduce flares and serious complications.
  • Immune suppressors – Some immune suppression medicine can help stop your body’s immune system from attacking healthy tissue in the GI tract, which may cause chronic inflammation.
  • Antibiotics – Ulcerative colitis can sometimes lead to infections in the intestine and GI tract, which require antibiotics to treat.
  • Corticosteroids – Steroid injections can help curb serious inflammation but may cause serious side effects.
  • Biological therapies – Biological therapies work in one of two ways: by targeting and blocking a natural molecule that the immune system uses to start inflammation, or targeting different molecules that control the body’s response to inflammation.
  • Over-the-counter medicine – Over-the-counter medicine can help manage symptoms, such as pain and diarrhea.

Diet

Trigger foods are foods that can irritate the GI tract and cause an ulcerative colitis flare. A food diary can help you identify foods and drinks that trigger symptoms.

If you have ulcerative colitis, avoid the following foods:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Dairy products
  • Dried fruit
  • High-fiber foods
  • Meat
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Popcorn
  • Raw fruits and vegetables
  • Sorbitol-containing foods (sugar-free gum and snacks)
  • Spicy foods
  • Sugar
  • Sulfur or sulfate foods (eggs, garlic and cruciferous vegetables, among others)

Healthy foods to include in your diet include omega-3 fatty acid and probiotics. Healthy strategies can also help manage ulcerative colitis, including:

  • Eat smaller meals.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Add low-fat foods to your menu.
  • Get regular exercise.

Treating Flare-Ups

If you are experiencing an ulcerative colitis flare-up, keep the following treatment tips in mind: 

  • Medication – Take your medication as prescribed during flare-ups and periods of remission.
  • Corticosteroids – Steroid injections can help manage short-term symptoms of a flare-up, but should not be used long-term.
  • Talk to your care team – Let your gastroenterologist know about your flare-up, the symptoms your experience, and the severity and duration of the flare-up. Your care team, including nutritionists, nurse managers, therapists and support groups can also offer support and care.
  • Be honest with family and friends – Let close family and friends know you are experiencing a flare-up, and let them know how they can help.

Committed to Ongoing Care

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition that requires ongoing care, even when the disease is in “remission” or not active. Your gastroenterologist and care team will work closely with you to monitor your health and condition, helping to prevent recurrence and avoid serious complications. 

At Temple Health, our ongoing care includes:

  • Monitoring your overall GI health, including discussing new symptoms and adjusting your treatment plan
  • Care that addresses your overall wellness and nutrition, led by a team that includes nutritionists, nurse educators, counselors and support groups
  • Checking for serious side effects of ulcerative colitis or treatment therapies
  • Following up with any necessary surgeries
  • Routinely screening for colon cancer
  • Administering routine vaccinations to prevent serious complications
  • Treating simple health problems, like bronchitis, that can cause complications