What to Do If You Need Surgery for Crohn's
If you face the prospect of having surgery, it’s important to give it your full consideration if your doctor recommends it. Surgery is not just a last-ditch effort to control the disease. It can be an important part of your treatment plan and greatly help improve the quality of your life. Here are some things you can do to help ease your concerns:
- Learn all you can about what type of surgery is recommended, why it is recommended, and what your other treatment options may be.
- Learn what to expect before, during, and after surgery.
- Ask your doctor what you can and can’t expect as a result of the surgery.
- Ask for a second opinion. You should not hesitate to ask for another opinion if you want one.
- Talk with people who have had the same type of surgery to find out about their experiences.
Once you’ve considered your options, you can make an informed decision. Surgery should not be taken lightly, however, it may be the best option to help relieve your symptoms and help you live a fuller life.
Maintenance Therapy for Crohn's
After you have entered remission, you will start maintenance therapy. The goal is to keep your symptoms from returning for as long as possible. Many of the same drugs used to help control flares are also used for maintenance therapy. Which medication or combination of medications your doctor recommends will depend on:
- What your symptoms are
- Where your Crohn’s disease is located
- Whether you experience any side effects
- Whether you have had surgery
Antibiotics, 5-ASA medications, immunomodulators, and biologics are all used to help maintain remission.
It is much easier to stay in remission than it is to get the disease under control in the first place. Here are some steps you can take to help maintenance therapy work for as long as possible:
- Always take your medication as directed by your doctor. Don’t skip doses or take less than recommended. If cost is a factor, talk with your doctor. He may be able to put you in touch with programs that offer free or discounted prescription medications.
- If you smoke, join a smoking cessation program. Smoking makes Crohn’s more active and may prevent remissions.
- Avoid taking aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve), as they can irritate the stomach and trigger disease flares. Don’t take any other prescription medication, OTC drug, nutritional supplement, or natural remedy without first talking with your doctor.
To help manage occasional bouts of cramping, diarrhea, or joint pain, your doctor may suggest the use of certain over-the counter drugs:
- Medications to stop diarrhea
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
However, because these drugs can hide symptoms of a disease flare, it’s important to consult your doctor before taking them.