There are six general categories of prescription drugs used to treat IBD.  The purpose and general category (type of medicine) is detailed in the table below.


Type of Medicine


Some Possible Side Effects

  • Aminosalicylates
  • Reduces intestinal inflammation
  • Used to maintain remission


Diarrhea, headaches,


  • Antibiotics
  • To fight infection
  • To maintain balance of good and bad bacteria in intestines


Some allergic reactions. Other side effects depend on specific antibiotic used.

  • Biologic Therapies 
  • To block proteins that cause inflammation
  • To reduce signs and symptoms
  • To induce and maintain remission

Allergic reactions, reduced ability to fight infections, risk of malignancy (rare).





  • Corticosteroids
  • To suppress the immune system
  • To control flares
  • To reduce inflammation


Weight gain, face swelling

difficulty sleeping, mood swings, infections, acne.

  • Immunomodulators
  • To suppress the immune system
  • To achieve remission
  • To maintain remission


Some Immunomodulators may take a few months before they start working


Nausea, inflammation of some organs, reduced ability to fight infections, risk of malignancy (rare)


  • OTC Over-the-counter medicine
  • To control symptoms of IBD, like diarrhea, constipation, and pain


Specific to each medication



* This list is not a complete description of medication purpose and side effects. Be sure to speak with your health care provider regarding your individual benefits, risk, and side effects.