Crohn's Disease - What Is It and How Can You Treat It?

Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease, also known as IBD, which targets the digestive tract and can cause abdominal pain, weight loss, diarrhea, fatigue, malnutrition and more. Although this affects the digestive tract, if left untreated, Crohn's disease can spread to different parts of the bowel and can prove to be debilitating for those that have it.


Crohn's disease occurs more commonly than you might think! Research shows around 1.3% of US adults report being diagnosed by either Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. That's around 3 million adults in the United States of America alone!


Crohn's Disease Treatment

 The question then arises: How do you treat Crohn's disease? Unfortunately, there is no known cure to the disease. However, there are many ways you can minimize the symptoms and flare-ups that are normally caused by the disease. With time and consistency, the inflammation can even heal, and patients can bring about long-term remission too. Here are the different ways you can treat Crohn's disease:


  1. Medication

Although medication cannot cure the disease, they can be used to treat the symptoms. Anti-inflammatory medicines, steroids, antibiotics, and immunosuppressants can help reduce symptoms of Crohn's disease, especially inflammation. 

Fiber supplements, pain relievers, and vitamins are used to treat the symptoms as well. Commonly used medicines are detailed below:

  • Ciproflaxin; an antibiotic that comes as a tablet and suspension, meant to be taken twice daily.
  • Cyclosporine; an immunosuppressant that comes in different forms and doses.
  • Prednisone (Deltasone); a corticosteroid that comes in the form of a tablet or oral suspension and can have different doses.

  1.  Dietary      Changes

In Crohn's disease, certain types of food and drink can trigger inflammation and other symptoms to flare up. Examples of these are wheat products, dairy products like butter or cream, soda, and red meat. Instead, patients are recommended to try switching over to diets that contain more eggs, tofu, dairy substitutes, potatoes, and rice.

  1. Surgery

At times, Crohn's disease can become life-threatening and reduce the quality of a patient's life to such a degree that surgery becomes necessary. Regardless of why the surgery has become necessary, the surgeon will focus on conserving as much of the bowel possible. Patients may opt for surgery if they experience symptoms such as abscesses, fistulas, toxic mega-colon, and excessive bleeding in the intestines.

The type of surgery differs according to the location of the disease and the severity of complications that the patient is experiencing. For example, in serious cases of Crohn's disease scar tissue may be surgically removed in order to prevent the thickening of the intestinal walls. 

In other cases, patients may suffer from a perforation - a hole in the intestinal wall - due to acidity or weakening of the walls. This is dangerous because a perforation means the potential spilling of the intestinal contents into the abdomen or other parts of the body - a condition better known as peritonitis.

There is also a danger of developing colorectal cancer and patients are recommended to surgically remove the colon and rectum in order to eliminate the risk.

  1. Changes in your lifestyle

Implementing changes in your lifestyle can help alleviate most of the symptoms of Crohn's disease and make it more manageable on a daily basis. Getting regular exercise, switching over to a healthier diet, and eliminating tobacco use can make a big difference when it comes to managing the disease. 

In addition, eliminating alcohol and caffeine is proven to be beneficial as such elements can increase the chance of diarrhea. Instead, water and non-caffeinated drinks are a good alternative! Lastly, making sure that your diet is vitamin rich and is meeting all of your daily nutritional needs is important. If it isn't, taking vitamin or dietary supplements is a good alternative.

In addition to taking care of your physical health, your mental health matters as well. Studies show that stress and anxiety can trigger flare-ups and worsen already present symptoms in Crohn's disease. Efforts like going to therapy, practicing meditation or yoga, and going on medication if needed prove to be beneficial for such patients.

  1. Natural Alternatives

Natural alternatives for the treatment of Crohn's disease can be of 3 types, i.e., alternative medicine, complementary medicine, and integrative medicine. Examples of some of these can be:

  • Prebiotics
  • Probiotics
  • Fish oil
  • Acupuncture
  • Biofeedback
  • Herbal treatments
  • Botanical treatments

All in all, although being diagnosed with an incurable disease such as Crohn's disease might seem daunting at first, there are ways to control the symptoms and live a healthy, normal life.