Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Treatments for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis

At the moment there is no cure for Crohn’s diseases or colitis. Fortunately there are many medical and surgical treatments available to help minimise the impact of these diseases.


Crohn’s disease and colitis are diseases with periods of ‘relapse’ when the inflammation in the bowel flares up and periods of ‘remission’ when the inflammation dies down again. The aim of treatment is to treat relapses when they occur, and give the bowel a chance to heal. Medications are also used to help maintain remission, improve general well-being and prevent complications from developing.

Medications commonly used to control inflammation in Crohn’s disease and colitis include:

  • aminosalicylates (5-ASA)
  • corticosteroids
  • immunomodulators (azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine and methotrexate)
  • biological therapies (infliximab and adalimumab)
  • antibiotics (metronidazole, ampicillin, ciprofloxin, and others).

Surgery in colitis

If colitis is very severe and does not respond to medication your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the colon. A ‘pouch’ is then created inside the body using the end of the small intestine, and this pouch is connected directly to the anus (back passage). Another option is to create a temporary or permanent opening (stoma) on the outside of the abdomen and connect the end of the small intestine to a bag. This surgery eliminates the symptoms of colitis so medications are no longer required.

Surgery in Crohn’s disease

Surgery can be used in Crohn’s disease to remove or to widen sections of the bowel that are badly affected by disease. The healthy ends of the bowel are usually rejoined to each other. Sometimes a temporary stoma is required if disease is very severe.

Sources: Colorectal Surgical Society of Australia and New Zealand (Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis), Crohn’s and Colitis Australia (What is ulcerative colitis?), Gastroenterological Society of Australia (Publication - GESA, DHF. Information about Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. (2011)), Digestive Health Foundation (Publication - Andrews JM, Sinclair M. Australian Guidelines for General Practitioners and Physicians. Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Third Edition, 2013.)

Last reviewed: September 2015

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 3 results

Stoma after ileostomy or colostomy - Better Health Channel

A stoma is an artificially created hole (stoma) in the abdomen so that faeces can still leave the body.

Read more on Better Health Channel website


A colostomy is a surgical procedure which connects the colon to the abdominal wall to form a stoma.

Read more on Queensland Health website

Bowel Cancer - Information, Treatment & Support - CanTeen

Bowel cancer, or colorectal cancer, is the second most common cancer in both men and women. Learn more about causes, diagnosis and treatments with CanTeen.

Read more on CanTeen website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo