You may feel worried, embarrassed, or even sad and depressed about having a bowel disease. Other stressful events in your life, such as moving, a job loss, or the loss of a loved one can worsen digestive problems.
Ask your health care provider for tips on how to manage your stress.
You can take medicine to treat very bad diarrhea. Loperamide (Imodium) can be bought without a prescription. Always talk to your provider before using these drugs.
Other medicines to help with symptoms include:
Fiber supplements may help your symptoms. You can buy psyllium powder (Metamucil) or methylcellulose (Citrucel). Ask your doctor before taking these products or laxatives.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) for mild pain. Avoid drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) which can make your symptoms worse.
Your doctor may also prescribe medicines to help control Crohn disease:
Aminosalicylates (5-ASAs), medicines that help control mild to moderate symptoms. Some forms of the drug are taken by mouth; others must be given rectally.
Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, treat moderate to severe Crohn disease. They may be taken by mouth or inserted into the rectum.
Medicines that quiet the immune system's reaction.
Antibiotics, treat abscesses or fistulas.
Biologic therapy, used for severe Crohn disease that does not respond to any other types of medicines.
Some people with Crohn disease may need surgery to remove a damaged or diseased part of the intestine. In some cases, the entire large intestine is removed, with or without the rectum.
People who have Crohn disease that does not respond to medicines may need surgery to treat problems such as:
Failure to grow (in children)
Fistulas (abnormal connections between the intestines and another area of the body)
The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of American offers support groups throughout the United States.
There is no cure for Crohn disease. The condition is marked by periods of improvement followed by flare-ups of symptoms. Although Crohn disease cannot be cured even with surgery, treatment can offer significant help to most people.
You have a higher risk for small bowel and colon cancer if you have Crohn disease. At some point, your doctor may recommend tests to screen for colon cancer.
Those with more severe Crohn disease may have these problems:
Abscess or infection in the intestines
Anemia, a lack of red blood cells
Fistulas in the bladder, skin, or vagina
Slow growth and sexual development in children
Swelling of the joints
Lack of important nutrients, such as vitamin B12 and iron
Problems with maintaining a healthy weight
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if:
You have very bad abdominal pain.
You cannot control your diarrhea with diet changes and drugs.
You have lost weight, or a child is not gaining weight.
You have rectal bleeding, drainage, or sores.
You have a fever that lasts for more than 2 or 3 days, or a fever higher than 100.4°F (38°C) without an illness.
You have nausea and vomiting that lasts for more than a day.
You have skin sores that do not heal.
You have joint pain that prevents you from doing your everyday activities.
You have side effects from medicines you are taking for your condition.
Lichtenstein GR, Hanauer SB, Sandborn WJ; Practice Parameters Committee of American College of Gastroenterology. Management of Crohn's disease in adults. Am J Gastroenterol. 2009;104(2):465-483. PMID: 19174807 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19174807.
Terdiman JP, Gruss CB, Heidelbaugh JJ, Sultan S, Falck-Ytter YT, et al. American Gastroenterological Association Institute Guideline on the Use of Thiopurines, Methotrexate, and Anti-TNF-a Biologic Drugs for the Induction and Maintenance of Remission in Inflammatory Crohn's Disease. Gastroenterology. 2013;145(6):1459-63. PMID: 24267474 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24267474.
Subodh K. Lal, MD, gastroenterologist at Gastrointestinal Specialists of Georgia, Austell, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.