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Managing Crohn's Disease

A young boy

​​​​Managing Crohn’s Disease

There is no known cure for Crohn’s disease, so the goal is to treat the Crohn’s-related inflammation, which helps in managing the symptoms and treating the complications of the disease. When inflammation and symptoms are not affecting a patient’s daily life, this is called remission. Patients in remission can have normal growth and a very good quality of life.

Medication

One method for treating inflammation is medication. There are a variety of prescriptions available for individuals with Crohn’s because each individual will have different needs and reactions to the medication. Physicians will choose medication based on the following:

  • Location of the inflammation (small intestine or colon)
  • Length of time medication will be used
  • Type of symptoms present
  • Severity of symptoms and complications of the disease.

It is possible that you will have to try a few different medications before finding one that works for you. Both the reduction of symptoms and the presence of side effects will be taken into account when determining if a prescription is beneficial for a patient.

Over-the-counter (OTC) medication may be used to manage symptoms such as diarrhea and pain, but patients are advised to consult their physician before using OTC treatments.

Diet

Diet is another tool used to manage Crohn’s disease. In some cases, a physician may want to provide the bowels some time to rest, or not digest solid food. Under this condition, a patient may spend a short period of time “eating” through a feeding tube or via a substance injected directly to the veins.

In less extreme instances, patients may simply be asked to keep a food diary during Crohn’s flare-ups so they can track what habits tend to aggravate their symptoms and what habits tend to minimize symptoms.

Surgery

Up to one half of individuals diagnosed with Crohn’s will receive some sort of surgery. Surgery will provide a temporary benefit to the individual by removing or repairing a damaged portion of the digestive tract.

Support

Crohn’s disease can lead to some major lifestyle changes, so it is important to have support systems in place. Support can manifest in a number of ways.

  • Someone to talk to – Whether it’s a friend, a therapist or a group of individuals who suffer from IBD, being able to express what you are feeling will help keep the emotional effects of Crohn’s at bay.
  • Quality of life resources – There are systems in place to help Crohn’s sufferers go about their daily life during a flare-up. One such example is the Restroom Request Card, which allows you to discreetly request access to restricted bathrooms when symptoms are about to cause an embarrassing situation.
  • Education – Knowledge is power, so empower yourself by researching your ​condition, tips for managing your symptoms and more. Start with your physician and branch out to libraries and credible websites.