Is Crohn’s Disease Curable? What to Know
Read on to learn whether Crohn’s disease is curable, its treatments, and research.
There is no cure for Crohn’s disease, but researchers continue to study the condition in the hopes of finding one. Treatments focus on relieving symptoms and preventing flare-ups.
Crohn’s disease usually occurs in cycles. The condition will “flare up” for a time and then go into remission. During remission, symptoms may go away entirely.
You may be able to manage Crohn’s disease through various treatments.
Changing your diet may manage and even reduce some symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Your doctor may ask you to keep a food diary to determine which foods make your symptoms worse.
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may recommend:
- drinking more liquids
- avoiding dairy products
- eating a high calorie diet
- avoiding carbonated drinks
- taking vitamins or supplements
- eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day
- eating a diet low in fat and sodium
- avoiding high fiber foods, such as nuts, popcorn, or vegetable skin
Talk with your doctor about your symptoms and what dietary changes they recommend. And always discuss new vitamins, supplements, or alternative medicines or therapies with your doctor before beginning them.
Learn more about diet modifications for Crohn’s disease.
In severe cases, you may need to rest your bowels so they can heal.
If your doctor recommends bowel rest, you’ll begin with a liquid diet. With this diet, you’ll not eat solid foods for a short time. Your doctor will recommend specific liquids that will supply your necessary vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
A liquid diet may encourage beneficial bacteria to grow in the intestinal tract.
Under some circumstances, you may get nutrition and fluids only through an IV.
Medication is the primary treatment for Crohn’s disease. Your doctor may prescribe one or several of to help control your symptoms or keep them from returning:
- Steroids, or corticosteroids, reduce inflammation and lower your body’s immune system.
- Immunosuppressants reduce your body’s immune system response, decreasing inflammation.
- Aminosalicylates help manage inflammation.
- Biologic medications are made from living cells, such as proteins. They treat Crohn’s disease by neutralizing specific immune system proteins and decreasing inflammation. They are generally used only if other medications do not work.
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may decrease pain.
- Antibiotics can prevent or treat infections.
- Loperamide (Imodium) can help reduce or stop diarrhea.
Your doctor may recommend avoiding nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve), which can worsen your symptoms.
Learn more about 10 commonly prescribed medications for Crohn’s disease.
Your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the affected portion of your bowel if more conservative treatments do not work.
A bowel resection may decrease some or all of the symptoms and prevent them from returning for a while. However, they will more than likely come back eventually.
The surgeon will remove a portion of your intestines and reconnect the two ends of the bowel. Usually, the procedure is a laparoscopic or keyhole surgery. The surgeon makes small incisions and performs the surgery using scopes, probes, hooks, and other instruments.
You may need to stay in the hospital for up to a week. Complete recovery may take a few months.
In some cases, your surgeon may perform an ileostomy. After removing the affected portion of the bowel, the surgeon will attach one end to an opening they make in your abdomen, called a stoma.
Your stool will empty into a bag attached to the stoma outside your body until your intestines heal enough to be reconnected to the rest of your intestines. Sometimes, the ileostomy may be permanent.
You may also need surgery to repair fistulas, bowel obstructions, or life threatening bleeding. Medication may still be required to prevent flare-ups, even after surgery.
Learn more about surgical treatments for Crohn’s disease.
Though there is no cure for Crohn’s disease, scientists and researchers continue to search for better treatments or a cure.
A study published by the American Gastroenterology Association found that upadacitinib (Rinvoq) was effective for long-term Crohn’s disease that did not respond to biologics. Upadacitnib is still in the trial phase but is a promising future treatment option for Crohn’s disease.
Another study published in 2022 reported that risankizumab (Skyrizi) is safe and effective in keeping Crohn’s disease in remission. In initial trials, risankizumab performed well and was well tolerated by the participants.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disease. There is no cure, but treatments can manage the symptoms and prevent flare-ups. Scientists and researchers continue searching for better treatments or even a cure.
Talk with your doctor about ways to manage Crohn’s disease.