Take quick action when your symptoms flare. The right treatment can give you relief and prevent damage to your colon. Medication, diet, and lifestyle changes ease inflammation, pain, diarrhea, and other common problems.
Your doctor may prescribe:
Stress doesn't cause Crohn's disease, but it may make symptoms worse and even trigger a flare. Calming techniques like deep breathing or meditation may help you relax. Make sure you get enough exercise and sleep, too. And set limits on how much you take on. That way you won't have too much to do when a flare hits and you don't feel well.
Over-the-counter medications that have bismuth subsalicylate or loperamide may help. They can cause dry mouth, so it helps to suck on ice or hard candies. Talk to your doctor before you take any medication for diarrhea.
Foods don't cause Crohn's, but some can worsen your symptoms, especially during flares. Common triggers include high-fiber foods, fried items, and spicy dishes. Write down the ones that seem to bother you, and then avoid them. During a flare, you may feel better if you try soft, bland foods and eat small meals during the day. A registered dietitian can help make sure you get enough nutrients.
Avoid taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, for pain and discomfort. They can irritate your stomach and small intestine and make your symptoms worse. Talk to your doctor about using acetaminophen instead.
If your symptoms are severe and steroids don't help you feel better, your doctor may suggest you try medications that affect your immune system. You might hear them called immunomodulators. They include 6-MP, azathioprine, and methotrexate. Other medicines called biologics also target your immune system to help control inflammation. Some used for Crohn's include adalimumab (Humira), certolizumab (Cimzia), infliximab (Remicade), natalizumab (Tysabri), and ustekinumab (Stelara).
The diarrhea that often comes along with a flare can leave you dehydrated. So drink several glasses of water a day. You may need more depending on how severe your diarrhea is. Your doctor can tell you how much H2O is right for you.
Your doctor might say you get an operation if medications don't help, or if you have other complications. Some fistulas, abscesses, or bowel obstructions may require an operation. During the procedure, your doctor will remove damaged parts of your intestines. But he’ll try to preserve as much as he can to keep your digestion normal.