Welcome to our health education library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.

Management of Ulcerative Colitis: MedicationsManejo de la colitis ulcerosa: Medicamentos

Management of Ulcerative Colitis: Medications

Your doctor may prescribe medication to control your ulcerative colitis symptoms and improve your quality of life. Medication won't cure ulcerative colitis. But it can help keep the disease from slowing you down. As always, work closely with your doctor. Your medication or dosage may need to be changed if you have certain side effects or if your symptoms change.


Special anti-inflammatories treat the lining of the intestine. These medications can reduce inflammation and discomfort. But they're not like aspirin or other over-the-counter medications. They must be prescribed by a doctor. The most common anti-inflammatories for ulcerative colitis are called 5-ASA compounds. They can help control symptoms over long periods of time. 5-ASA compounds may be taken as pills. But they also can be taken as an enema or suppository (the medicine is put directly into the rectum).

Possible Side Effects of 5-ASA Compounds

The 5-ASA compound prescribed most often is in the "sulfa" family. Your doctor will explain its possible side effects to you. Some of them include:

  • Headache

  • Upset stomach

  • Vomiting

  • Skin rash

Less common but more severe side effects may include fever and heart or liver problems. Severe side effects can be a sign of a sulfa allergy. If you have a sulfa allergy, your medication may need to be changed. Your doctor will explain the side effects and other details of any new medications you may need to take. Call your doctor if your side effects become severe.


Your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids to reduce inflammation. Unlike 5-ASA compounds, corticosteroids are usually taken for short periods only. They shouldn't be taken in remission (a long period without severe symptoms).

Possible Side Effects of Corticosteroids

Taken over time, corticosteroids can cause severe side effects. They also may put you at risk for diabetes (a blood sugar problem).

Side effects may include:

  • Mood changes

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Weight gain

  • Puffy face or acne

  • Changes in body shape

  • Bone loss or fractures

  • High blood pressure

  • Eye problems

  • Facial hair (women)

  • Stretch marks

Other Medications

  • Immunosuppressives treat the part of your body that fights disease (the immune system). By treating the immune system, inflammation may be reduced. Immunosuppressives can be taken for long periods. But you may need to see your doctor more often than usual for monitoring.

  • Antibiotics fight the bacteria that can lead to infections in some cases of ulcerative colitis. Some patients may get sores in the digestive tract. These sores then drain into other parts of the body. This can lead to an infection. In some cases, antibiotics also help reduce inflammation.

Handling Side Effects

You and your doctor will discuss side effects. In most cases, side effects are easy to manage. But sometimes they can become severe enough that you need to change medication. Call your doctor if you're having side effects that trouble you. Also call if you're having any side effects that are unexpected.

Date Last Reviewed:

Date Last Modified: 2005-12-09T00:00:00-07:00

For top-quality, up-to-date care for gastrointestinal problems, trust the board-certified, experienced GI specialists trusted by thousands of patients and their doctors for nearly 30 years. Call Gastroenterology Consultants at (281) 481-9400 or fill out our online Request an Appointment form to schedule your consultation with us.

Gastroenterology Consultants


444 FM 1959, Suite A,
Houston, TX 77034
Direct Phone: 281-481-9400

St. John

2060 Space Park Drive, Suite 306
Nassau Bay, TX 77058
Direct Phone: 281-892-2460

Clear Lake

250 Blossom Street, Suite 210 Webster, TX 77598
Direct Phone: 281-316-1119


4211 Fairmont Parkway
Pasadena, TX 77504
Direct Phone: 832-456-8434


15015 Kirby Dr. Ste.200A
Pearland, TX 77047
Direct Phone: 713-343-6360

League City

2555 S. Gulf Freeway Ste. 500
League City, TX 77573
Direct Phone: 281-481-9400

Gastroenterology Consultants is a leader in advanced, comprehensive gastrointestinal care. We specialize in up-to-date gastrointestinal care, which includes screening and treatment for colon cancer, heartburn and acid reflux, esophageal disorders and difficulty swallowing, peptic ulcers, H. pylori, gallstones and other gallbladder disorders, rectal bleeding and hemorrhoids, malabsorption and celiac disease, liver diseases - hepatitis C, hepatitis B, cirrhosis, fatty liver disease, hepatoma and liver cancer, abdominal pain, noncardiac chest pain, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer, anemia, nausea and vomiting, gas and bloating and lactose intolerance

Gastroenterology Consultants also offers colonoscopy screening for colorectal cancer, EGD & capsule endoscopy small-bowel, endoscopic ultrasound, Bravo 48-hour pH monitoring, H. pylori breath testing, esophageal manometry and impedance testing, hemorrhoid band ligation, esophageal dilatation, advanced therapeutic ERCP, Biologic therapy, treatment of Barrett's esophagus, common bile duct stones and endoscopic mucosal resection.