Because Crohn’s Disease affects patients differently in every case, there seems to be no one right answer for everybody. The three main treatments for Crohn’s Disease thus far, are: Diet, Medication, and Surgery. Some people will find that one of these works for them, while others find that it takes a certain combination of them. The key to success will be getting to know your body, keeping track of what affects you – and how, and finding a doctor that is dedicated to finding what works best for your case.
Diet: There is no cure for Crohn’s Disease, but some people have found that monitoring what they eat can help them eliminate foods that will aggravate their symptoms. This will not prevent a flare from occurring, but it could help with the day to day pain and inflammation. I have never been great about restricting my diet. It’s something that I would really like to learn and implement into my own life. Even if you can’t manage all your symptoms with diet, eating healthy is always a good thing. :)
Medication: There are tons of different medications that can be used for Crohn’s Disease, but I’ll just get into the ones I believe are the most common. (I have taken at least one medication in each of these categories: Asacol, Pentasa, Imuran (Azathioprine), Prednisone, Remicade & Humira, but ultimately had to have surgery to remove my large intestine. So I now live with a permanent Ileostomy.)
- Immuno-suppressants: Many medications for treating Crohn’s Disease, suppress the immune system so it doesn’t keep attacking itself and causing inflammation.
- Steroids: Due to the many side effects, these are typically used in flare situations to get the inflammation under control and are not usually used long term.
- 5-ASA’s: These medicines contain 5-aminosalicylate acid and help treat the lining of the intestines.
- Anti-TNF’s (Biologics): Tumornecrosis Factor is a chemical in our body that causes inflammation and medicines like Remicade, Humira or Cimzia, help destroy TNF. They seem to have a great success rate, but also can have many side effects. Typically given by either injection or infusion – these can also sometimes get quite pricey.
Surgery: For many Crohn’s Disease patients, medication just doesn’t cut it and a surgery will have to be performed. There are bowel resections, where just a portion of the bowel is removed (bowel re-section), and in some cases, this would result in a Colostomy. If the entire colon needs to be removed, then you would live with just the small intestines and an Ileostomy. This is what happened in my case, and after having the surgery – my quality of life improved more than words can say. It was very scary, but it was definitely the right option for me.
I hope this information helps, and that you’re able to find the right answer for you. If you’d like to read more about me and the experiences I went through on my journey with Crohn’s Disease, please check out My Story: Living with Crohn’s Disease.