Treatment for ulcerative colitis (UC)

While there is no cure for UC, there are many options that can eliminate symptoms and heal the colon, especially if your health care provider starts and continues the right treatments early. The goals of treatment are to:

  • Control inflammation or swelling.

  • Ease symptoms, like urgency, stool frequency, diarrhea (loose stool) and bleeding.

  • Fix nutrition deficiencies, if needed.

  • Improve quality of life and eliminate disability due to UC.

Treatment will depend on the severity of the disease, past complications and response to earlier treatments.

Remember, everyone experiences symptoms of UC differently. If one treatment doesn’t work as well, there are other options. Just be sure to be in touch with your gastroenterologist often.

Treatment options for UC mainly involve medicines but in combination with dietary management, psychosocial care, and potentially surgery.

“Treat-to-target means that you have an identified timeline where you expect whatever intervention or treatment you started to actually have some sort of positive effect. If you don’t achieve it by that certain time point—in general, that’s 12 weeks—then we have to re-evaluate and reassess and say, “Okay. Is it because the treatment’s not working? Is it because we need to tweak it? Or is it we need to move on to something else?” Christina Ha, MD, Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, Cedars-Sinai, Los Angeles, CA


Treat-to-target is an approach that health care providers use to make sure that patients reach their treatment goals. This approach is also used in other chronic diseases such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

In this approach, you work with your gastroenterologist to identify treatment goals such as easing symptoms, improving your quality of life, laboratory markers, reducing inflammation, and healing your colon. Your gastroenterologist will regularly check whether these goals have been reached. If not, your therapy should be adjusted to meet your goals.

Listen to Dr. Ha explain treat-to-target

Which of the tools from this website might you use to help you talk to your health care provider about UC? (Select all that apply)
Data provided are anonymous and will be used exclusively to monitor the effectiveness of this educational resource.