Monday, July 29, 2013

Crohn's Disease Treatment Options Disappointing to Some

According to studies and surveys performed by the National Institutes of Health, many patients are unhappy with conventional Crohns disease treatment and more than half seek alternatives. Crohns disease symptoms are difficult to live with and affect the quality of a person's life, so it is understandable that those who suffer from the condition would seek alternatives, when traditional therapies are ineffective or cause unwanted side effects.

Crohns disease treatment depends primarily on the severity of symptoms. Crohns disease symptoms may include abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite and weight loss. The primary Crohns disease symptoms may lead to complications including abscesses, ulceration of the deepest layers of the lining of the digestive tract or abnormal openings, called fistulas, in the intestine. There may be intestinal bleeding and that combined with recurrent diarrhea are Crohns disease symptoms that may lead to vitamin deficiencies, malnourishment and anemia.

Initially Crohns disease treatment may include an anti-diarrhea medication such as Imodium A-D, an over the counter product that is designed to stop diarrhea and reduce abdominal pain. When Crohns disease symptoms are moderate to mild, aminosalicylates or corticosteroids may be prescribed. If neither of these is effective or if stopping corticosteroids causes symptoms to return then Crohns disease treatment may include prescription medications that suppress the immune system.

The theory behind Crohns disease treatment plans to suppress the immune system stems from the fact that inflammation is present. Crohns and ulcerative colitis are known as inflammatory bowel diseases and the belief is that the immune system overreacts to bacteria that normally lives in the bowel and attacks it in the way that it would normally attack invading bacteria or infection. It is believed that Crohns disease symptoms may be caused by this dysfunction of the immune system, since inflammation is present, but not infection.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, are not normally included in Crohns disease treatment, because they have been linked in clinical studies to flare-ups and worsening of Crohns disease symptoms. Thus corticosteroids are the most common choice of Crohns disease treatment to control inflammation. Corticosteroids are not safe for long term Crohns disease treatment or for the treatment of any disease, because they have serious side effects including high blood pressure, osteoporosis and increased risk of infection. When used for extended periods of time, some people become steroid dependent, even though they become ineffective after long term use and Crohns disease symptoms return.

When a Crohns disease treatment plan includes medications to suppress the immune system and control inflammation in that way, there is a greater risk of infection. Obviously if the immune system is suppressed, it cannot fight infection effectively. In addition, there is a greater risk of cancer, because the immune system normally attacks and destroys abnormal cells that if left unchecked may eventually become cancer cells.

Aminosalicylates relieve Crohns disease symptoms in some cases, but cannot be used by certain people and may reduce white blood cell counts; once again, lowering a person's resistance to other infections and diseases by impairing the immune system. Prescription medications for Crohns disease treatment are obviously lacking, both in effectiveness and safety. Scientists continue to research new drugs for Crohns disease treatment.

When Crohns disease symptoms are severe, surgery may be recommended to remove the affected portions of the bowel. This choice for Crohns disease treatment is extreme and is understandably avoided by most patients. However, those who have had surgery no longer suffer from Crohns disease symptoms. There are numerous support groups both for people who are considering surgery for Crohns disease treatment and for those who have had surgery, since certain adjustments and lifestyle changes may be necessary at least initially. Most people who have had surgery for Crohns disease treatment report that they are able to lead normal lives and that the relief of Crohns disease symptoms has improved their quality of life.

A recent study (August, 2006) found that 52% of the time, Crohns disease treatment was inappropriate. This was a group of gastroenterologists, surgeons and general practitioners evaluating the prescribed Crohns disease treatment plans of their colleagues. For those who suffer from Crohns disease symptoms, this may be discouraging news. Many people choose self-treatment with aloe, slippery elm or other botanicals. While the effectiveness of these natural products has not been proven, there is evidence of traditional use as digestive aids, which suggests that they may be effective for Crohns disease treatment and the relief of Crohns disease symptoms.

Aloe, in particular, has been scientifically proven to be a natural anti-inflammatory. Many researchers, doctors and scientists believe that natural anti-inflammatories may be gentler to the body, safer overall and more effective, because they target several inflammatory responses; synthetic anti-inflammatories may target only one molecule. Natural anti-inflammatories do not hamper the immune system, as do prescription anti-inflammatories for Crohns disease treatment.

Relieving inflammation can relieve Crohns disease symptoms. While decisions about Crohns disease treatment are a personal choice, those who suffer from the disease should advise their doctor about natural products they are using, particularly when using prescription medications at the same time. Botanicals and herbals have been known to interact with prescription medications typically used in Crohns disease treatment. For more information about natural products that may be useful for the relief of Crohns disease symptoms, visit

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