Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes chronic inflammation in the small intestine and large intestine. It can cause a range of symptoms, including mouth sores, fever, abdominal pain, blood in the stool, diarrhea, fatigue, and weight loss. The condition is characterized by flare-ups that make it hard for you to function normally.
If you do not want to let Crohn’s disease rule your life, you need to see a gastroenterologist who specializes in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases. First, you need a definitive diagnosis. Second, you could easily become overwhelmed by the onslaught of physical symptoms which can also take its toll on your mental health without support.
While there is no cure for Crohn’s disease, you can reduce the frequency of flare-ups and respond well to them for an improved quality of life. Below, we provide you with a guide to Crohn’s disease treatment, and where you can go in Austin to receive personalized treatment for this GI condition.
There is no single medication that works for this inflammatory disease. Usually, a combination of different medications helps produce the best outcomes.
Some of the different types of medications that can be used to treat Crohn’s disease include:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs, which can help reduce inflammation in the digestive tract and relieve symptoms. Examples include sulfasalazine, mesalamine, and corticosteroids.
- Immune system suppressors, which work by suppressing the immune system, which can help reduce inflammation in the digestive tract. Examples include azathioprine, mercaptopurine, and methotrexate.
- Biologics, which target specific proteins in the immune system that contribute to inflammation. Remicade® infusions are usually given to patients who have not responded to drug therapy and can help them achieve remission.
- Antibiotics reduce the presence of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract, as well as the amount of drainage from fistulas and abscesses, and let the digestive tract heal.
- Antidiarrheals are used to relieve flare-up symptoms like diarrhea, by introducing more fiber to the stool. An example is psyllium husk supplements or powder drinks.
- Pain-relievers, particularly acetaminophen, are easier on the stomach and help ease the pain.
Dietary Changes and Nutrition Therapy
Some people with Crohn’s disease may find that certain foods trigger their symptoms. Keeping a food diary can help identify problem foods, and a registered dietitian can help develop a personalized nutrition plan. In some cases, a special liquid diet in what’s called nutrition therapy may be used to help reduce inflammation in the digestive tract. The gastroenterologist may also recommend vitamins and supplements to ensure you are getting the nutrients you need. Alcohol and tobacco use should be limited or eliminated since they can cause a flare-up.
Lifestyle changes are needed to manage Crohn’s disease. One example is stress management, since stress can trigger the release of cortisol, which causes inflammation, and can exacerbate symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Stress management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can be helpful.
Surgery may be necessary for people with Crohn’s disease, not as a cure, but to help relieve symptoms. Some of the procedures performed are:
- Stricturoplasty, which involves widening the narrowed sections of the intestine to prevent blockages.
- Bowel resection involves the removal of the damaged portion of the digestive tract and joining the remaining sections of the intestines that are healthy.
- Fistulotomy involves the removal of fistulas, which are abnormal connections between different parts of the intestine.
With proper management of Crohn’s disease, you can experience a period of remission, so you can return to a life you love.
Crohn’s Disease Treatment in Austin, TX
The board-certified and fellowship-trained gastroenterologists at Austin Gastro specialize in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disorders such as Crohn’s disease. We offer a comprehensive treatment program for all our patients and individualize our recommendations according to your unique needs, lifestyle, and preferences. Our GI doctors are qualified to perform Crohn’s surgery should you need it.
For any questions or to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist at Austin Gastro, call our gastroenterology office nearest you or use our online request form.