Goals of treatment
There are a variety of treatments available today for Crohn's, and researchers are continuing to develop exciting new options. The location and severity of your disease, accompanying complications, and your response to previous treatment will all influence your gastroenterologist's choice of therapy.
There are several important goals of treatment:
- Induce and maintain remission (prevent future flare-ups)
- Heal mucosa (the lining of the intestine)
- Restore and maintain nutrition
- Maintain quality of life as it relates to Crohn's
- Select optimal timing for those requiring surgical intervention
Currently available treatments for Crohn’s include:
- Anti-inflammatory medication: Most people who have Crohn’s receive one or more different types of drugs designed to control inflammation. These may include sulfasalazine, other medications containing mesalamine (known as 5-ASA agents), and corticosteroids.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics, such as metronidazole and ciprofloxacin, may help heal abscesses and fistulas. Other antibiotics may be prescribed to treat bacterial growth in the intestine caused by obstruction or abscesses.
- Antidiarrheal medication: Antidiarrheal medication offers some relief for the diarrhea that many people with Crohn’s experience. Loperamide, codeine, and even fiber powders can help alleviate symptoms.
- Biologics: Biologics such as Infliximab and Adalimumab (Currently registered in South Africa for the treatment of Crohns Disease) are the latest form of therapy for the treatment of Crohn's disease.
- Immunosuppressive medication: These drugs block the body’s immune response, which leads to inflammation. Immunosuppressive medications used to treat Crohn’s include azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine, methotrexate, and cyclosporine.
- Nutritional supplements: Nutritional supplements are helpful for people who lose calories and nutrients from diarrhea or decreased appetite. Supplements can help fuel the body and replenish iron, calcium, other minerals, and vitamins.
- Surgery: If other treatments do not effectively control symptoms, a gastroenterologist may recommend surgery to close fistulas or remove the part of the intestine where the inflammation is most severe.
Some people may experience long periods of remission when they are free of symptoms. However, symptoms usually recur at various times over a person's lifetime. It is not possible to predict when a remission may occur or when symptoms will return. Because of the unpredictability of Crohn's, you may need medical care for as long as your gastroenterologist deems necessary, with regular office visits to monitor your condition