How is Crohn's disease treated and managed?

Treatment for Crohn's disease depends on how severe the disease is, and where it is located. Because the disease can sometimes go into remission on its own, it is not always possible to determine whether a specific treatment has been effective. When Crohn's disease is active, treatment is aimed at controlling inflammation, correcting shortages in the patient’s diet, and relieving symptoms such as pain, diarrhea, and fever.

Medications are generally the first step in treating Crohn's disease. Some of these medications include anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, corticosteroids, antidiarrheals, and medications that suppress the immune system. For those patients who have nutritional shortages, supplements are often prescribed.

Even though it cannot cure Crohn's disease, surgery is sometimes needed for patients whose symptoms do not respond to medications. Surgery can correct perforations (holes), blockages, or bleeding in the intestine. Unfortunately, Crohn's disease often returns to the area next to where the inflamed part was removed. You should discuss with your doctor all possible options before deciding upon surgery.

In managing Crohn's disease, it is very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, even when the disease goes into remission for long periods of time. You can do this by exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. If you smoke, quitting can also help prevent symptoms from coming back. Studies have shown that smokers are at a higher risk of developing Crohn's disease than non-smokers, and that smokers with Crohn's disease tend to have a more severe course than non-smokers with Crohn's disease.

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