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Crohn's Disease (cont.)

Other Treatment

Other treatments for Crohn's disease include balloon dilation, supplemental nutrition, and complementary therapies.

Balloon dilation

Balloon dilation isn't surgery. It may be done if you want to delay surgery, or if you have had surgery before and your doctor wants to save as much of the intestine as possible.

During the procedure, the doctor moves an endoscope through your intestine from your anus. The endoscope is a long, thin tube that has a video camera on the end. An uninflated balloon is placed across the narrowed part of the intestine. When the balloon is inflated, it makes that part of the intestine wider.

The balloon is deflated and then removed. Not as much is known about the long-term success of balloon dilation compared to surgery.

Supplemental nutrition

Some people who have Crohn's disease need additional nutrition because severe disease prevents their small intestine from absorbing nutrients.

Supplemental liquid feedings may be done through a tube placed in the nose and down into the stomach (enteral nutrition) or through a vein (total parenteral nutrition, or TPN). Enteral nutrition or TPN may be needed when:

  • Crohn's disease isn't controlled with standard treatment.
  • Short bowel syndrome occurs. This happens when so much of the small intestine has been surgically removed or is affected by the disease that you can't properly digest food and absorb enough nutrients.
  • Bowel blockage occurs.

Supplemental feeding can restore good nutrition to children who are growing more slowly than normal. It also can build strength if you need surgery or have been weakened because of severe diarrhea and poor nutrition.

Supplemental nutrition allows the intestines to rest and heal. But it's common for symptoms to return when TPN is stopped and you go back to a regular diet. TPN doesn't change the long-term outcome of Crohn's disease.

Complementary medicine

Many people with inflammatory bowel disease consider nontraditional or complementary medicine in addition to prescription medicines. They may turn to these alternatives because there is no cure for Crohn's disease. People may also use complementary medicine for help with:

  • The difficult side effects from standard medicines.
  • The emotional strain of dealing with a chronic illness.
  • The negative impact of severe disease on daily life.

These therapies have not been proved effective for Crohn's disease, but they may improve your well-being. Therapies include:

  • Special diets or nutritional supplements, such as probiotics, evening primrose, and fish oils.
  • Vitamin supplements, such as vitamins D and B12.
  • Herbs, such as ginseng.
  • Massage.
  • Stimulation of the feet, hands, and ears to try to affect parts of the body (reflexology).

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