1st February 2015
Although Crohn’s Disease is an incurable condition, there are countless medications and treatments that can be used in controlling its symptoms. However the majority of these can bring with them a myriad of other side effects in the process.
By the time I was finally diagnosed with the disease I had become very seriously ill. My consultant had proposed that surgery would be advisable, if not essential, in aiding relief from my then brutal symptoms. Yet due to hospital red-tape and procedures, I was forced through multiple other treatments beforehand in order to attempt to control things without the need for life-threatening surgery. Understandable, and I do appreciate now why this was deemed necessary, however when I was in the midst of feeling like I may drop dead at any given moment, I couldn’t quite see the sense in letting me wallow in drug induced misery rather than cutting out the offending area.
I was to try a variety of different medications at breakneck speed to rule out any need for surgery. I dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s and downed all sorts of horrendous drugs to appease my surgical overlords, then inevitably underwent the operation which served to save my life.
During the earliest stages of Crohn’s Disease, the most commonly used drugs are Anti-inflammatories. These may be helpful if the disease affects your colon, but aren’t as obliging at treating the disease in the small intestine. They come with various unpleasant side effects including nausea, vomiting, heartburn and headaches. If these have no impact on your condition your doctor may consider steroids, such as Prednisolone. Again these will come with side effects such as a puffy face (hamster cheeks), facial hair, insomnia, and night sweats. These drugs are mainly short term only and a patient may find themselves on this treatment for around 3-4 months. A small chunk of your life you may consider, however it rarely feels that way when you are rolling around in a sweat-soaked bed looking like Teen Wolf and struggling to get some shuteye.
Beyond these more basic treatments you may be moved onto antibiotics, nutrition therapy or biologic drugs such as Infliximab, if necessary, you may also require surgery to remove the most badly affected area.
I am currently on Mercaptopurine which is an immunosuppressant. It’s a drug that can cause nausea, vomiting and countless other symptoms. Immunosuppressant’s such as these do exactly what they say on the tin; suppress your immune system. Therefore patients are required to have regular blood tests and follow ups with their doctor to ensure there are no more long-term side effects such as a lowered resistance to infection.
Your consultant will of course discuss what’s best for you, because although Crohn’s is sadly becoming more and more common, treatments are still trial and error as each body handle certain drug in their own unique way. It’s hard to know what will work for you until you try it. With Crohn’s I often feel a lot like a test tube subject, firing various pills down my gullet and crossing my fingers. Learning alongside our doctor’s about what works for us is of vital importance. It’s a lifelong test we will maybe never pass but definitely one worth studying for.
Thanks to Kathleen Nicholls for this Crohns blog post. Kathleen is on Twitter (@kathfantastic), has her own blog on Facebook as well as at http://crohnologicalorder.blogspot.co.uk/ and has her very own website http://kathfantastic.weebly.com where you can find more about her, further inspiring blog posts and other great content.
To celebrate the forthcoming launch of Book forCrohns, we’ve launched Blog forCrohns, featuring blogs from some of the best Crohn’s bloggers on the web as well as volunteers from the forCrohns committee. We plan to have a different topic every month in 2015 and we’d love you to contribute. Find out more here.