- Getting enough exercise;
- Eating a healthy diet;
- Kicking any tobacco habits; and
- Making sure to get your daily vitamin and nutrient requirements (as nutrient absorption can be a proble with crohns disease.
Medical Treatments for Crohn’s Disease
There is currently no cure for Crohn’s disease, and no single treatment exists that works for everyone. The goal of medical treatment is to reduce the inflammation that triggers your signs and symptoms. It also seeks to improve long-term prognosis by limiting complications. A best-case scenario is that this may lead not only to symptom relief but also to long-term remission.
Anti-inflammatory drugs. Anti-inflammatory drugs are often used as a first step in treating Crohn’s disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
Corticosteroids. These include medications known as prednisone and budesonide, which can help to reduce inflammation in your body. However, they don’t work for everyone living with Crohn’s disease. They are generally used only if you don’t respond to other treatments. Doctors will prescribe prednison for short periods of about three to four months, along with other immune system suppressors, until your symptoms improve.
Immune system suppressors. These target the immune system, which produces the substance that causes inflammation. A combination of these drugs will work better for some people than one drug alone. Some of these drugs work well and might suit you lifestyle. Some examples include:
- Azathioprine, imuran, azasan, mercaptopurine, purinethol and purixan. These are the most widely used drugs to treat inflammatory bowel disease. Your doctor will check your bloods regularly while you are taking them, to see if you are developing any side effects.
- Infliximab (remicade) and adalimumab (humira). These drugs, called TNF inhibitors or biologics, work by neutralising an immune system protein known as tumor necrosis factor.
- Methotrexate (trexall). This drug is sometimes prescribed for people with Crohn’s disease who do not respond to other medication.
- Natalizumab (tysabri) and vedolizumab (entyvio). These drugs work by stopping certain immune cell molecules — integrins — from binding to other cells in your intestinal lining. As natalizumab is associated with a rare but serious risk of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy — a brain disease that usually leads to death or severe disability — you must be enrolled in a special restricted distribution programme to use it. Vedolizumab was recently approved for the treatment of Crohn’s disease. While it works in a similar manner to natalizumab, however, it appears not to carry a risk of brain disease.
- Ustekinumab (stelara). This drug is used to treat psoriasis. Studies have shown that it is also useful in treating Crohn’s disease, as well sometimes being used when other medical treatments fail.
- Antibiotics. Taking antibiotics can reduce the amount of drainage required and they can heal fistulas and abbesses that may occur in people living with Crohn’s disease. Antibotics can help reduce harmful intestine bacteria that play a lead role in activating your immune system, thus causing inflammation. The most commonly prescribed antibiotics are ciprofloxacin and flagyl. Some medications help relieve the signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
It is important to always speak to your doctor before you take over-the-counter medications, if you have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may recommend one of the following:
- Anti-diarrheals. This is a fibre supplement, such as psyllium powder or methylcellulose, which can help relieve mild to moderate diarrhoea by adding bulk to your stool. If your diarrhoea is more severe, your doctor may recommend imodium, which is more effective.
- Pain relievers. While most doctors will advise paracetamol (tylenolo for mild pain), it is very important to check with your doctor if you are taking other pain relief, as some painkillers are likely to make your symptoms worse. They can also cause your Crohn’s disease to flare-up and add to your discomfort and poor well-being.
- Iron supplements. If your intestine starts bleeding, you might have developed iron deficiency anemia, and you may need to take an iron supplement. It is recommended that you always check with your doctor first.
- Vitamin B12 injections. If you are living with Crohn’s disease, you may have a B12 deficiency. This vitamin prevents anemia, aids normal growth and development and helps essential nerve functioning.
- Calcium and vitamin D supplements. Steroids may be used to treat your symptoms. However, as this can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis, you will need to take some calcium supplements and some added vitamin D.
Home Remedies for Crohn’s Disease
Sometimes there will be days when you will feel helpless or your Crohn’s disease will flare-up. Should this happen, this is a good diet that can help your lifestyle, living with the illness and keeping your symptoms under control.
Best Diet for Crohn’s Disease
There is no evidence to suggest that what you eat can cause inflammatory disease. However, a lot of foods can aggravate your Crohn’s disease and can cause flare-ups. It can be helpful to keep a diary to see what you eat throughout your week. If you identify any foods that cause your Crohn’s to flare-up, you should try to eliminate them from your diet. Here are some suggestions that may be of help:
- Limit dairy products. Many people with inflammatory bowel disease find that problems such as diarrhoea, abdominal pain and gas can improve by limiting or eliminating dairy products. You may be lactose intolerant — that is, your body can’t digest the milk sugar (lactose) in dairy foods. Using an enzyme product such as Lactaid may help.
- Try eating low-fat foods. If you have Crohn’s disease of the small intestine, you may not be able to digest or absorb fat normally. Instead, fat passes through your intestine, making your diarrhoea worse. Try avoiding butter, margarine, cream sauces and fried foods.
- Limit fibre, if it’s a problem food. If you have inflammatory bowel disease, high-fibre foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, may make your symptoms worse. If raw fruits and vegetables bother you, try steaming, baking or stewing them. In general, you may experience more problems with foods in the cabbage family, such as broccoli and cauliflower, and nuts, seeds, corn and popcorn. You may be told to limit fibre or go on a low residue diet if you have a narrowing of your bowel (stricture).
- Avoid other problem foods. Spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine may make your signs and symptoms worse.
Other dietary measures
- Eat small meals. You may find that you feel better eating five or six small meals a day rather than two or three larger ones.
- Drink plenty of liquids. Try to drink plenty of fluids daily. Water is best. Alcohol and beverages that contain caffeine stimulate your intestines and can make diarrhoea worse, while carbonated drinks frequently produce gas.
- Consider multivitamins. Multivitamin and mineral supplements can often be helpful, as Crohn’s disease can interfere with your ability to absorb nutrients and it can also limit your diet. Check with your doctor before taking any vitamins or supplements.
- Talk to a dietitian. If you begin to lose weight or your diet has become very limited, talk to a registered dietitian.
Smoking increases your risk of developing Crohn’s disease, and once you have this condition, smoking can make it worse. People with Crohn’s disease who smoke are more likely to have relapses and need medications and repeat surgeries. Quitting smoking can improve the overall health of your digestive tract, as well as providing many other health benefits.
Although stress doesn’t cause Crohn’s disease, it can make your signs and symptoms worse and may trigger flare-ups. While it’s not always possible to avoid stress, you can learn ways to help manage it, such as:
- Exercise. Even mild exercise can help reduce stress, relieve depression and normalise bowel function. Talk to your doctor about an exercise plan that’s right for you.
- Biofeedback. This stress-reduction technique may help you reduce muscle tension and slow your heart rate, with the help of a feedback machine. The goal is to help you enter a relaxed state so that you can cope more easily with stress.
- Regular relaxation and breathing exercises. One way to cope with stress is to regularly relax and use techniques such as deep, slow breathing to calm down. You can take classes in yoga and meditation or use books, CDs or DVDs to learn how to use these techniques at home.
Alternative Medicine for Crohn’s Disease
Many people with digestive disorders have used some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). However, few well-designed studies are available to date to show that they are safe and effective to use.
Some commonly used therapies include:
- Herbal and nutritional supplements. The majority of alternative therapies aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Manufacturers can claim that their therapies are safe and effective but don’t need to prove it. What’s more, even natural herbs and supplements can have side effects and cause dangerous interactions. Make sure to let your doctor know, should you decide to try any herbal supplements.
- Probiotics. While there is some evidence to suggest that some Bifidobacterium preparations may help people with Crohn’s disease to maintain remission, a number of studies have found no treatment benefits associated with probiotics. Further research is necessary to determine their effectiveness.
- Fish oil. Studies carried out on the use of fish oil in the treatment of Crohn’s disease have not shown any benefits.
- Acupuncture. Some people may find acupuncture or hypnosis helpful in the management of Crohn’s disease, but neither therapy has been well-evaluated for use within this context.
- Prebiotics. Unlike probiotics — which are beneficial live bacteria that you can consume — prebiotics are natural compounds found in plants, such as artichokes, that help fuel beneficial intestinal bacteria. Studies have not shown positive results in the use of prebiotics for people with Crohn’s disease.
Coping and Support
Knowledge is power over living with Crohn’s disease. Find the support group that suits you, seek out events so you can source new ideas and learn about new products if your a colostomy user .
Don’t just look for support groups for Crohn’s, get involved in other activities in your area (e.g men’s shed groups, creative writing, music, sports, etc.). Don’t let Crohn’s rule your outlook on life, yes it is good to talk about your Crohn’s in a supported environment, but it is just as important to get involved in other thing in life not connected to your illness. Set your self particular goals.
There are many support groups that will help you deal with living with Crohns disease and help your family to understand and support you. If they are not in your area, check out internet forums, facebook, etc. That help builds awareness so people can better understand Crohn’s.
The following sites provide provide some supports:
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