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Treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases is targeted at reducing inflammation, relieving symptoms such as pain and diarrhoea, controlling and healing damage where possible, identifying and addressing complications, and supplementing any nutritional shortages. Since the course of an IBD is usually one of flare-up followed by remission, the treatment will change over time.

Patients with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease will need to be regularly monitored and should work with their doctors to become educated about their condition. While lifestyle changes, such as diet modification, rest and stress reduction, may help improve a patient’s quality of life and extend a remission, they cannot prevent an IBD flare-up. Acute symptoms are treated with a variety of medicines. These drugs are effective but some can only be given for short periods of time because of their side effects. Current therapies include the use of steroids, anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive drugs, and antibiotics. One or more operations may also become necessary to remove damaged tissue, to treat fistulae and to relieve obstruction.

Last Review Date: June 4, 2017