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Treatment

There's currently no cure for Crohn's disease, but treatment can control or reduce the symptoms and help stop them coming back.

Medicines are the main treatments, but sometimes surgery may be needed.

Most people with Crohn's disease need to take steroids (such as prednisolone) from time to time.

Steroid medicines:

The charity Crohn's and Colitis UK has more information about steroids

For children and young adults, a liquid diet (enteral nutrition) can also help reduce symptoms.

This involves having special drinks that contain all the nutrients you need, instead of your usual diet, for a few weeks.

It avoids the risk of slower growth that can happen with steroids.

Enteral nutrition has few side effects, but some people may feel sick or have diarrhoea or constipation while on the diet.

Crohn's and Colitis UK has information about food and Crohn's disease

Sometimes you might also need to take medicines called immunosuppressants to reduce the activity of your immune system.

Common types include azathioprine, mercaptopurine and methotrexate.

Immunosuppressants:

Crohn's and Colitis UK has more about azathioprine and mercaptopurine

If other medicines are not helping, stronger medicines called biological medicines may be needed.

The biological medicines for Crohn's disease are adalimumab, infliximab, vedolizumab and ustekinumab.

Biological medicines:

Crohn's and Colitis UK: adalimumab and Crohn's and Colitis UK: infliximab.

Your care team may recommend surgery if they think the benefits outweigh the risks or that medicines are unlikely to work.

Surgery can relieve your symptoms and help stop them coming back for a while, although they'll usually return eventually.

The main operation used is called a resection. This involves:

  1. Making small cuts in your tummy (keyhole surgery).
  2. Removing a small inflamed section of bowel.
  3. Stitching the healthy parts of bowel together.

It's usually done under general anaesthetic (while you're asleep).

You may be in hospital for about a week and it might take a few months to fully recover.

Sometimes you may need an ileostomy (where poo comes out into a bag attached to your tummy) for a few months to let your bowel recover before it's stitched back together.

You may need to take medicine after surgery to help prevent symptoms returning.

Crohn's and Colitis UK has more information about surgery for Crohn's disease.