Crohn's Disease: Symptoms and Treatment

Approximately 700,000 Americans have Crohn’s disease, a chronic but manageable inflammatory bowel disease.

Young woman with stomachache sitting on her bed
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Many patients have to take agents to reduce diarrhea. All patients must modify their diet. In many cases, symptoms disappear with medication and diet. This is called remission. Most patients have periods of remission and flare-ups.

Surgery may be needed if medications don't work. Up to 70 percent of patients will eventually need surgery. The surgery often involves removing the diseased section of the intestine. The two ends of the healthy intestine are then sewed together. Even with surgery, patients may experience flare-ups.

Medications for Treating Crohn's Disease

There are several things you can do to reduce and manage your symptoms.

  • Anti-inflammation medications: These medications reduce inflammation. They also relieve pain and diarrhea. Most people are initially treated with one of these medications.
  • Cortisone or steroids: These medications also reduce inflammation and are used during the earliest stages of Crohn's disease. This is when symptoms are at their worst.
  • Immune system suppressors: These medications suppress the immune system. They are used if other agents don't work. They are also used to treat tissue damage.
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics are used to treat infections.
  • Medications for diarrhea: These medications help reduce diarrhea. They also help relieve stomach cramps.
  • Where Can I Get More Information?

    The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America provides information on managing symptoms. The foundation provides forms for a dietary food diary and for tracking flare-ups. It also offers support groups for members to help each other understand and cope with Crohn's disease.

    Note: This article was originally published on July 17, 2013 on It has been edited and republished by U.S. News.