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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

Expected Duration

Ulcerative colitis is a lifelong condition, unless the large intestine is surgically removed. Most people with ulcerative colitis do not have their colon removed. That is because their symptoms can be controlled with medication. Or, they only have symptoms once in a while.

In ulcerative colitis, the inflammation is not always active. There can be long breaks between symptoms.

Each time ulcerative colitis acts up, symptoms can occur for weeks or months. Often these flare-ups are separated by months or years of good health with no symptoms.

Some people notice that certain foods aggravate their symptoms. By managing their diet, these people can increase the time between flare-ups.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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