Inflammatory Bowel Disease
How Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treated?
Treatment for IBD involves a combination of self-care and medical treatment.
Although no specific diet has been shown to prevent or treat IBD, dietary changes may be helpful in managing your symptoms. It's important to talk with your doctor about ways to modify your diet while making sure you get the nutrients you need. For instance, depending on your symptoms, the doctor may suggest that you reduce the amount of fiber or dairy products that you consume. Also, small, frequent meals may be better tolerated. In general, there is no need to avoid certain foods unless they cause or worsen your symptoms.
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 provide 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.
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.