Gastroenterology conditions for consumers

There are many safe and effective treatments for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Use the latest evidence to help you make decisions about your treatments in partnership with your IBD team.

Gastroenterology conditions for consumers

Key points

  • The term inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is used to describe a group of conditions that cause painful swelling and irritation (inflammation) in the digestive tract.
  • The two most common forms of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • Medicines play an important role in relieving the symptoms of IBD. These medicines can also help keep your condition under control (remission), by reducing inflammation and allowing your bowel to heal.
  • Most people with IBD will need to take medicines regularly to help manage the condition. These medicines are usually needed over a long period but the types and doses may change to keep the symptoms well managed.
  • Some medicines for IBD will reduce the activity of your immune system. These are important for keeping your IBD in remission but may take 8 – 12 weeks to work.
  • Some medicines used to treat ulcerative colitis may involve putting a suppository or enema into your rectum. This may seem unappealing but rectal medicines can help you feel better and keep your ulcerative colitis under control.

Gastroenterology conditions for health professionals

For health professionals, check out : Gastroenterology conditions for health professionals

Thiopurines for inflammatory bowel disease

Learn about the benefits and risks of these medicines for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and complete the plan for regular checks with your health care team.


Deciding on the best way to use my ulcerative colitis medicines

Find out about medicines for ulcerative colitis, including how they are used, their benefits and what else you should consider if prescribed them. Use this tool with your gastroenterologist to help you  discuss  your needs and preferences before making a decision.


Low-dose methotrexate for Crohn’s disease

This action plan can help you discuss methotrexate with your gastroenterologist and plan the best way to take your medicine.


MedicineWise app

The MedicineWise app is NPS MedicineWise’s free health and medicines management app. The MedicineWise app can:

  • keep track of your medicines and remind you when your medicine doses and appointments are due
  • store your information such as your health conditions and allergies
  • allow you to share your health information with your health professionals and people who may be caring for you
  • provide you with trusted, relevant and up-to-date information relating to your medicines and your health conditions.

Medicines list

A medicines list can be a useful way to keep all the information about your medicines together. Download and print the NPS MedicineWise medicines list in English, or in 10 other languages.

Download and print a medicines list

Crohn’s & Colitis Australia

Information and support to help you understand your diagnosis and manage your IBD, including:


Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA)

GESA provides up-to-date information about IBD and other conditions affecting the digestive system, nutrition, digestive health and what to expect when undergoing specific medical procedures.


Crohn’s & Colitis UK

Practical information and videos for anyone affected by Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, including family, friends, medical professionals and employers.




Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA)

Clinical update for general practitioners and physicians, inflammatory bowel disease (updated 2018)

Provides guidance about the diagnosis and management of IBD.

European Crohn’s and Colitis Organisation (ECCO)

ECCO guidelines on therapeutics in Crohn’s disease: Medical treatment

International recommendations for the management of Crohn’s disease.

European Crohn’s and Colitis Organisation (ECCO)

Third European evidence-based consensus on diagnosis and management of ulcerative colitis. Part 2: Current management

International recommendations for the management of ulcerative colitis.

Marshall et al, 2010 

Rectal 5-aminosalicylic acid for induction of remission in ulcerative colitis

A study of the effectiveness of rectal aminosalicylates (5-ASAs) for ulcerative colitis.

Marteau et al, 2005 

Combined oral and enema treatment with Pentasa (mesalazine) is superior to oral therapy alone in patients with extensive mild/moderate active ulcerative colitis: a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled study

A study exploring the role of oral and rectal treatment versus oral medicines alone for ulcerative colitis.

Lemaitre et al,  2017 

Association between use of thiopurines or tumor necrosis factor antagonists alone or in combination and risk of lymphoma in patients with inflammatory bowel disease

A study assessing the risk of lymphoma associated with thiopurines and anti-TNF medicines in IBD.

Nielsen et al,  2020 

Efficacy and safety of methotrexate in the management of inflammatory bowel disease: A  systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials

A study of the effectiveness and safety of methotrexate in IBD.