Treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases is targeted at reducing inflammation, relieving symptoms such as pain and diarrhea, controlling and healing damage where possible, identifying and addressing complications, and supplementing any nutritional shortages. Since the course of an IBD is usually one of flare-up followed by remission, the needs of someone with an IBD will vary from person to person and frequently change over time.
People with ulcerative colitis or Crohns disease will need to be regularly monitored and should work with their doctors to become educated about their condition. While lifestyle changes, such as diet modification, rest, and stress reduction, may help improve a person's quality of life and extend a remission, they cannot prevent an IBD flare-up. Acute symptoms are treated with a variety of medications. These drugs are effective, but many can only be given for short periods of time because of their side effects. Current therapies include the use of corticosteroids, anti-inflammatories, immune suppressive drugs, and antibiotics. Biologic therapies, drugs derived from living organisms and their products (such as proteins), may be used in the treatment of IBD. An example of these is a group of drugs (called anti-TNF) aimed at blocking and inactivating tumor necrosis factor (TNF).
One or more surgeries may eventually be necessary to remove damaged tissue, to treat fistulas, and to relieve obstructions.