How is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) treated?

While there is no cure for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), lifestyle changes, medications and surgery may help reduce the signs and symptoms of IBD and help bring about remission (a period of time when symptoms fade).

Diet and Lifestyle Changes

  • Diet: What you eat cannot cause IBD, but certain foods may worsen your symptoms. Our nutrition team, working in close collaboration with your gastroenterologists, can help you modify your diet to reduce symptoms of IBD and also make sure that you are eating and absorbing enough food to meet your nutritional needs.
  • Smoking cessation: Smoking may be a cause of IBD and may also worsen symptoms. Talk to your doctor about the various options available to help you stop smoking.
  • Stress relief: While stress is not a known cause of IBD, it can worsen the symptoms or bring about a relapse, as with many chronic diseases. It may be helpful for people with IBD to use positive ways to reduce stress, such as exercise, yoga, meditation, massage, breathing exercises, biofeedback, therapy, and support groups.

A variety of medications are available to manage the symptoms of IBD and help keep the disease in remission. It is important to work with your doctor to determine what medication is right for you. Our physicians try to use the least toxic medication to get the best results:

  • Anti-inflammatory agents
  • Antibiotics
  • Steroids
  • Immunologic agents
  • Biologic agents

While surgery is not the first approach physicians use to treat Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, often surgery can greatly restore quality of life in people who are struggling to get well despite medical treatment. Some surgeries control symptoms, while others are more curative.

Treatments for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may include:

  • Medicines
  • Surgery
  • Changes in the foods you eat—some people find following specific diets helps ease their symptoms Nutritional supplements Reducing stress and getting enough rest

If you have IBD, your treatment will depend on:

  • Your symptoms and how severe they are
  • Which part of your digestive tract is affected
  • If you have health problems outside the digestive tract

Most people with IBD take medicine to control their symptoms. If medicines cannot control their disease, some people will need surgery.

This answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.