Treatment for CD depends on which part and how much of the gut is affected.

Active inflammation is usually treated with steroid drugs which reduce the swelling and the pain of inflammation. Mild inflammation may be treated with 5-ASA such as mesalazine or sulphasalazine. Immunosuppressants such as azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine, or methotrexate, may be used for more persistent CD. Biologic drugs are available for more severe CD which has not responded to the usual treatments.

Another way of treating CD is with ‘enteral nutrition’ – a specially formulated liquid diet that can be taken instead of food, usually for up to eight weeks. Exclusive enteral nutrition is commonly used in children. In adults this type of liquid food is more likely to be prescribed as a supplement.

CD can sometimes cause blockages in the intestines or fistulas, and if medical treatment is not effective, surgery may be suggested. In an operation called a resection, severely inflamed sections of intestine are removed, and the healthy ends joined together. Some people may have a stricture or narrowing of the intestine. This can be treated with a strictureplasty operation in which the intestine is surgically widened or stretched. Occasionally, for severe CD in the colon (large intestine) which is not responding to drug treatment, surgery to remove the whole colon may be recommended. You might then have an ileostomy or stoma.

For more information see our MedicationsSurgeryDiet, and Ostomy care sections.