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Inflammatory Bowel Disease Health Center

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Crohn's Drugs That Target Your Immune System

Your doctor may suggest you take drugs that curb your immune system after you've already tried other treatments for Crohn's disease. These medications can play a key role in curbing flare-ups.

How They Work

The goal is to reduce inflammation in your gut, which is a cause of your Crohn's symptoms.

The inflammation is a result of a complicated set of events in your body. Taking drugs that curb the immune system, as well as other drugs like steroids and antibiotics, can break the process that leads to inflammation. This will ease your symptoms and help prevent flares.

When Are They Used?

There are several situations in which your doctor might turn to these drugs to treat your Crohn's:

Steroids Aren't Working. Sometimes you get immune system drugs after you've already been treated with steroids. Your doctor might have you use them if the steroids aren't helping or are only partly effective. Or there might be a concern that you're becoming too dependent on steroids to lower inflammation.

Keep Flares Away. Immune system drugs can help keep your Crohn's symptoms from coming back. It may take up to 3 months before they take effect.

Treat a Fistula. A fistula is a sore that forms a tunnel that goes from one part of your intestine to another. The tunnel may also go from your digestive system to nearby areas such as the bladder, vagina, anus, or skin.

Sometimes doctors combine immune system drugs with corticosteroids during flare-ups of disease. This may speed up treatment and curb side effects.

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