Your healthcare provider will create a care plan for you based on:
- Your age, overall health, and past health
- How serious your case is
- How well you handle certain medicines, treatments, or therapies
- You have family planning goals (such as getting pregnant)
- If your condition is expected to get worse
- What you would like to do
There is no cure for Crohn's disease. But there are some things that can help to control it. Treatment has 3 goals:
- Ease symptoms such as belly or abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding
- Control redness or swelling (inflammation)
- Help with getting the right nutrition
Treatment may include:
- Medicine. Some medicines may help ease abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Medicines often reduce inflammation in the colon. If you have a more serious case, you may need medicines that affect your body's infection-fighting system (immune system). These are given as pills, injections (called biologics), or combinations of both. It is very important to discuss the pros and cons of medicine with your doctor, and not to stop the medicines without their knowledge. Sometimes stopping a medicine will limit its ability to help you again in the future.
- Diet. No special diet has been shown to help prevent or treat Crohn's disease. However, a special diet called an elemental diet can treat Crohn's disease in some situations. In some cases, symptoms are made worse by milk, alcohol, hot spices, or fiber.
- Supplements. Your healthcare provider may suggest nutritional supplements or special high-calorie liquid formulas. These may be helpful for children who are not growing fast enough.
- IV or intravenous feeding. In rare cases IV feeding may be used for people who need extra nutrition for a short period of time.
- Surgery. Surgery may help Crohn’s disease, but it can’t cure it. The swelling or inflammation often returns next to the area where the intestine was removed.
Surgery may help to reduce long-term or chronic symptoms that don’t get better with therapy. Surgery may also fix some problems such as a blocked intestine, a hole or perforation, an abscess, or bleeding.
Types of surgery may include:
Draining abscesses in or near fistulas
An abscess is a collection of pus or infection. Treatment includes antibiotics and injectables such as biologics, but sometimes surgery is needed.
Bowel or intestinal resection
The diseased section of intestine is removed. The two healthy pieces of intestine are attached. This surgery shortens your intestines.
When part of the intestine is removed, then a new way to remove stool from your body is created. The surgery to create the new opening is called an ostomy. The new opening is called a stoma. There are different types of ostomy surgery. The type of surgery that is done will depend on how much and what part of your intestines is removed.
Ostomy surgery may include:
- Ileostomy. The colon and rectum are removed and the bottom part of your small intestine (ileum) is attached to the new opening or stoma.
- Colostomy. This surgery creates an opening in your belly or abdomen. A small part of the colon goes through this opening up to the surface of the skin. In some cases a short-term colostomy may be done. This is used when part of the colon has been removed and the rest of the colon needs to heal.
- Ileoanal reservoir surgery. This may be done instead of a permanent ileostomy. It is done in 2 surgeries. First the colon and rectum are removed and a short-term ileostomy is performed. Then the ileostomy is closed. Part of the small intestine is used to create an internal pouch to hold stool. This pouch is attached to the anus. The muscle of the rectum is left in place, so the stool in the pouch does not leak out of the anus. People who have this surgery are able to control their bowel movements.