Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic condition causing inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, with primary forms being Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
"Living with IBD poses unique challenges, but medical advancements continue to introduce a range of treatments for effectively managing symptoms," says Sujaata R. Dwadasi, MD, Gastroenterology at ARC Northwest Hills Specialty. "From dietary adjustments to cutting-edge infusion therapies, individuals with IBD now have a broad array of options to tailor their treatment plans."
IBD treatment options
- Immunosuppressants: For more severe cases of IBD, immunosuppressant medications are often prescribed to modulate the immune system's overactive response. These drugs can help reduce inflammation and prevent the immune system from attacking the digestive tract. These can range from biologics (infusions/injections) to small molecule/immunomodulators (oral therapies). Infusions are usually administered at specialized clinics under medical supervision. Regular monitoring is essential due to potential side effects.
- Topical anti-inflammatory medications: Topical medications, such as mesalamine, are often prescribed to target inflammation directly within the digestive tract. These can be particularly useful for individuals with mild to moderate symptoms and can come in various forms, including enemas, suppositories, or oral formulations.
- Antibiotics: In certain situations, antibiotics may be prescribed to address bacterial overgrowth or infections that can occur in individuals with IBD. Antibiotics are generally used selectively, and the choice of antibiotic depends on the specific circumstances and symptoms.
- Steroids: In cases of acute flare-ups, corticosteroids may be prescribed to rapidly reduce inflammation. However, due to potential side effects, including bone density loss and mood changes, these medications are typically used for short-term symptom management.
- Surgery and repair: In some instances, surgery becomes necessary, especially if complications such as strictures, fistulas, or perforations occur. Surgical options range from opening areas of narrowing to formal bowel resections. "The overarching goal of these surgical interventions is not only to alleviate immediate complications but also to enhance the patient's long-term quality of life," says Arielle C. DuBose, MD, FACS, FASCRS, General Surgery, at ARC Medical Plaza Specialty. "Advances in surgical techniques continually strive to minimize the impact of these procedures, promoting better outcomes and improved postoperative recovery for individuals with IBD."
- Lifestyle changes: Beyond dietary adjustments, lifestyle changes can significantly impact IBD symptoms. Stress management, regular exercise, and adequate sleep are crucial to managing IBD. Mind-body practices such as yoga and meditation can also contribute to overall well-being and symptom management.
Effectively managing IBD involves a combination of lifestyle adjustments, medications, and sometimes surgical interventions. "As research continues to unveil new insights, the treatment landscape for IBD evolves, offering hope for improved outcomes and a better quality of life for those affected by these chronic conditions," says Dr. Dwadasi. The long-term goal of treatment is remission from symptoms, with fewer and shorter relapses.
Make an appointment
Treatment for IBD usually involves medications to control inflammation, lifestyle changes, and, in some cases, surgery. If you would like to learn more about treatment options, visit us at ARC Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Program.
Dr. Dwadasi accepts new patients, ages 18 and older. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Dwadasi, call ARC Northwest Hills Specialty at 512-344-0450.