Your specific course of treatment for Crohn's disease will depend on the severity of the disease and how much of your gastrointestinal tract is involved. The goal of treatment is to suppress the active disease, prevent recurrence and conserve your small bowel.
Crohn's Disease Treatment: Medication
As you begin your course of treatment, symptoms such as fever, cramps and abdominal tenderness should begin to disappear. If your symptoms do not respond promptly, your doctor may suspect an obstruction or an abscess (a fluid-filled pocket) or perhaps a misdiagnosis.
Medications used to treat Crohn's disease include:
Anti-inflammatory drugs: If you have mild to moderate Crohn's disease, this may be an effective treatment.
Antibiotics: The effectiveness of certain antibiotics is similar to that of anti-inflammatory drugs.
Steroids: Steroid drugs, such as adrenocorticosteroids (prednisone), in combination with other anti-inflammatory drugs, improve symptoms in more than 75 percent of patients.
Immunomodulator drugs: These drugs alter your body's immune response by inhibiting the activity of killer cells. These drugs are generally well tolerated.
Biologic therapies: This type of medicine targets the substance in your body that causes inflammation. One specific biologic therapy is FDA-approved to treat Crohn's disease, and is often recommended for those who did not respond to other medication.
Certain dietary changes may give you temporary relief while your medication therapy is beginning.
Crohn's Disease Treatment: Surgery
About 40 to 60 percent of patients with ileal Crohn's disease (Crohn's disease in a certain part of your small intestine) need surgery during the first 10 years of symptoms. If you develop an abscess or perforation, you may need surgery earlier.
Unfortunately, more than half of patients who undergo surgery develop a recurrence of the disease within 10 years. The most aggressive surgery is bowel resection, which involves removing part of your bowel. Doctors usually delay recommending this surgery until they have controlled the inflammation and corrected malnutrition.