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Inflammatory Bowel Disease

How Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treated? continued...

One dietary intervention your doctor may recommend is a low-residue diet, a very restricted diet that reduces the amount of fiber and other undigested material that pass through your colon. Doing so can help relieve symptoms of diarrhea and abdominal pain. If you do go on a low-residue diet, be sure you understand how long you should stay on the diet, because a low-residue diet doesn't let you get all the nutrients you need. Your doctor may recommend that you take vitamin supplements.

Another important aspect of self-care is to learn how to manage stress, which may worsen your symptoms. One thing you might want to do is to make a list of things that cause you stress and then consider which ones you can eliminate from your daily routine. Also, when you feel stress coming on, it can help to take several deep breaths and release them slowly by blowing out. Learning to meditate, creating time for yourself, and regular exercise are all important tools for reducing the amount of stress in your life.

Participating in a support group puts you in contact with others who know exactly the effect IBD has on your day-to-day life, because they are going through the same things you are. They can offer support and tips on how to deal with symptoms and the effect they have on you.

 

Medical Treatment

The goal of medical treatment is to suppress the abnormal inflammatory response so intestinal tissue has a chance to heal. As it does, the symptoms of diarrhea and abdominal pain should be relieved. Once the symptoms are under control, medical treatment will focus on decreasing the frequency of flare-ups and maintaining remission.

Doctors frequently take a stepwise approach to the use of medications for inflammatory bowel disease. With this approach, the least harmful drugs or drugs that are only taken for a short period of time are used first. If they fail to provide relief, drugs from a higher step are used.

Treatment typically begins with aminosalicylates, which are aspirin-like anti-inflammatory drugs such as sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), olsalazine (Dipentum), balasalazide (Colazal), and mesalamine (Asacol, Lialda, Pentasa, Apriso). Mesalamine can be taken orally or be administered as a rectal suppository or enema to treat ulcerative colitis. Because they are anti-inflammatory, they are effective in both relieving symptoms of a flare-up and maintaining remission. The doctor may also prescribe anti diarrheal agents, antispasmodics, and acid suppressants for symptom relief. You should not take anti-diarrheal agents without a doctor’s advice.

If you have Crohn's disease, especially if it's accompanied by a complication such as perianal disease (diseased tissue around the anus), the doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to be taken with your other medicines. Antibiotics are less commonly used for ulcerative colitis.

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