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Treatment for Crohn's Disease

By: Jody Ehrhardt - Updated: 8 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Crohn's Disease Inflammatory Bowel

Crohn's Disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that is characterised by the occurrence of diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and sometimes rectal bleeding. There is currently no cure for this disease, however effective treatment is available. The main types of treatment for Crohn's Disease include nutritional supplements, drug therapy, and surgery. Although sometimes used alone, these treatment options usually produce the best results when used in combination.

Treating Crohn's Disease with Nutritional Supplements

The main symptom of Crohn's Disease - diarrhoea - can cause many complications and unwanted side effects. Prolonged diarrhoea can lead to dehydration, malnutrition, and weight loss. In order to ensure that a patient with Crohn's receives proper nutrition, and to reduce the risk of dehydration, many doctors will prescribe nutritional supplements. These high calorie, nutrient-packed liquid supplements are easier to digest and less likely to increase the severity of diarrhoea.

If malnutrition is severe, or if the patient is suffering from serious dehydration, the doctor can also hospitalise the patient and order intravenous feeding and hydration.

Treating Crohn's Disease with Drug Therapy

Most medications that are prescribed for the treatment of Crohn's Disease are geared towards reducing or eliminating the inflammation associated with the disease. These medications include steroids, anti-inflammatory medications, antibiotics, immune system suppressors, and remicade-the generic name for a medication used solely for Crohn's Disease.

Steroids, or in some cases cortisone, is prescribed to reduce inflammation in the intestines. These medications are usually prescribed in large doses at the first sign of a flare-up and lowered as the inflammation improves.

Anti-inflammatory medications also treat the inflammation associated with the disease and work to eliminate the abdominal pain, cramping, and diarrhoea most individuals experience. Although this type of treatment is effective these medications can cause increased instances of nausea, vomiting, headache, and diarrhoea.

Sometimes doctors choose to treat the inflammation of the intestines with antibiotics. This is a popular treatment choice prior to intestinal surgery or when large amounts of bacteria are present in the small intestine.

Since inflammation is a result of the body's immune system attempting to fight irritation, immune system suppressors are sometimes prescribed to counteract this natural offence. When the immune system is suppressed it will not be able to fight infection as well so swelling in the area, and inflammation, is reduced. However, the effects of these medications can be seen throughout the body and the patient is more susceptible to other infections and conditions while taking these drugs.

Finally, remicade, a drug created for the treatment of Crohn's Disease, is often used to treat intestinal inflammation. This drug blocks the body's inflammation response and reduces the occurrence of swelling in the intestines.

Since diarrhoea is a main symptom of Crohn's Disease many doctor will also prescribe an anti-diarrhoeal medication during the treatment of flare-ups. These medications help reduce the severity of diarrhoea episodes and decrease their occurrence.

Treating Crohn's Disease with Surgery

If nutritional supplements and drug therapy do not control the symptoms of Crohn's Disease, surgery may be necessary. Although surgery will not cure or eliminate Crohn's Disease it is very effective at controlling the symptoms.

Surgery options for the treatment of Crohn's Disease include partial removal of the intestine and removal of the colon. If a colectomy- the surgical removal of the entire colon- is necessary the patient will need to wear a bag, which is attached to the ileum at skin level, to collect body waste for the rest of their life.

Crohn's Disease is a chronic, life-long condition that may need multiple courses of treatment. The treatment chosen by your doctor will depend on the severity, location, and complication of the disease.

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