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Crohn's Disease Health Center

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Crohn's Disease

How Is Crohn's Disease Treated? continued...

Response to therapy is evaluated within several weeks of starting treatment. Treatment is continued until remission is obtained (at which time, the health care provider may consider maintenance therapy). No improvement calls for more aggressive therapy. Nutritional supplements may also be recommended by your doctor.


Surgery is eventually required in about two-thirds to three-quarters of people with Crohn's disease. Surgery is done to treat complications of the disease -- such as fistulas, abscesses, hemorrhage, and intestinal obstructions -- or to treat people who do not respond to medications.

In most cases, the diseased part of the bowel is removed and the two healthy ends of bowel are joined together (anastomosis). This surgery can allow many people to remain symptom-free for years, but it is not a cure since Crohn's disease often recurs at the site of the anastomosis.

Unfortunately, too many resection surgeries can lead to a condition called short gut syndrome where there isn't enough bowel left to adequately absorb nutrients.

An ileostomy may also be required if the rectum is diseased and cannot be utilized for an anastomosis. This is a connection of the intestine to the skin overlying the abdominal wall. The result is an opening in the skin from which waste products can be excreted into a specially designed pouch.

What Role Does Diet Play in Crohn's Disease?

While foods appear to play no role in causing Crohn's disease, soft, bland foods may cause less discomfort than spicy or high-fiber foods when the disease is active. Except for restricting milk in lactose intolerant people, most gastroenterologists try to be flexible in planning the diets of their Crohn's disease patients. Ask your doctor to create a dietary plan for you.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on January 24, 2015
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