Managing UC Flare-ups

Man laying in bed while dealing with a flare-up

Living with ulcerative colitis can be a challenge. But you got this.

When you have UC, you may be thinking, “Will my condition flare up?” “What can I do when it does?” “How will I cope?” You’re not alone in those thoughts. Here, you’ll find helpful info that can help answer some of those questions you may be asking yourself.

Man laying in bed while dealing with a flare-up

First Things First: What Is a Flare?

A flare-up is the return or worsening of your symptoms. With inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), like ulcerative colitis (UC) or Crohn’s disease, specific symptoms will depend on which condition you have and the part of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract that’s inflamed. This inflammation can lead to a symptom flare-up.

Frequent and/or urgent bowel movements


Bloody stool

Abdominal pain


Weight loss

Lack of appetite

Ulcerative colitis is chronic—over time, your symptoms can change, or get worse. When you’re experiencing a flare-up, it’s necessary to talk to your doctor; be precise about any differences in your symptoms or changes to your condition over time.

How much of your time is your UC impacting? Find out and make a personal action plan

What Can Affect UC Flare-ups?

These are possible factors that could worsen symptoms and influence a flare:

  • Missing, skipping, or taking the wrong dose of medication—Flare-ups can result from not taking medications as prescribed. If you’re taking your medication as prescribed and still experience flares, talk to your doctor about possibly changing the dose, frequency, or medication.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—Aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen are medications that could worsen returning symptoms and lead to inflammation.
  • Antibiotics—Used for treating bacterial infections, they also change the bacteria in the intestine. These changes to the bacteria may cause diarrhea or inflammation. Tell your doctor if you’re taking antibiotics and experience a UC flare-up.
  • Smoking—Cigarettes not only raise the risk of developing UC, but they can also trigger flares.
  • Stress—Whether it be emotional or physical, stress doesn’t cause UC, but it can affect symptoms.
  • Foods that irritate your GI tract—There’s no evidence that food can cause or cure UC, nor is there any evidence that it can cause a flare. But during a flare-up, food can affect your symptoms, and every person with UC is different when it comes to foods or drinks that may aggravate symptoms.
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How long have you been diagnosed?

"I'm not diagnosed"

It’s still important to be open about symptoms you might be experiencing.

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"Under a year"

Always stay positive and be proactive. Make sure you know the facts about your condition.


"1 to 3 years"

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"3 to 5 years"

Do you know how inflammation affects you inside the body—and impacts your symptoms?

See Inside Inflammation>


"Over 5 years"

Keep treatment conversations open with your specialist and have more productive visits.

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How often do you experience symptoms?


Schedule an appointment with your specialist and make the visit even more productive.

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Have an open conversation with your specialist. Make the most of your next visit.

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Make sure that you’re telling your doctor everything they need to know to help you.

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Did you know that inflammation can affect you—even if you don’t have symptoms?


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Know the basics of Crohn’s or UC

See an overview of facts on Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC)—all on one downloadable page.

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Understand your inflammation

Explore and learn how inflammation affects you with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC)—from inside the body.

9 Tips for Managing UC Flare-Ups

You can’t always prevent flares, but you can be proactive about your health.


Always take your treatment as prescribed


See your doctor regularly—and have open conversations about your symptoms


Monitor and track your UC


Keep up with UC-related tests and procedures


Set up your support system


Keep up with UC-related tests and procedures


Exercise regularly


Don't smoke


Bring down your stress levels

Real UC patient

Taking my medicine consistently helps me stay in remission and reduces the chances of any long–term issues.

JOE | Real UC Patient

Real UC patient
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Understand your inflammation

Explore and learn how inflammation affects you with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC)—from inside the body.

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Looking for a gastroenterologist?

Find a gastroenterologist—a doctor who specializes in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC)—near you.

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Make the most of your appointments

Our doctor discussion guide can help you talk effectively with your doctor during your visits.


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