Regaining Control of Your Life
Inflammatory bowel diseases can interfere with your life. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can cause you to miss work, skip social events and generally lower your quality of life. For some people with these conditions, their symptoms get so severe that they need to be hospitalized.
We want to help you get your life back. The specialists at our Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center will talk with you about your symptoms and your goals. We may recommend testing, such as a colonoscopy, to determine how severe your condition is. Then we’ll design a treatment plan that fits your needs, your preferences and your life.
Today’s treatments for inflammatory bowel disease have led to dramatic improvements for people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Our specialists combine their skills to determine the most effective therapies for each patient.
Your care team may recommend one or more of these approaches to care:
- Anti-inflammatory medicines. The first step in treating inflammatory bowel disease is often the use of an anti-inflammatory medicine. Your provider may recommend drugs such as corticosteroids or aminosalicylates.
- Biologics. These medicines have proved highly effective in controlling both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. They work by suppressing your immune system to reduce inflammation. Lahey Hospital & Medical Center was among the first in the U.S. to use these medicines, and we have developed a deep understanding of how to use them for the best result.
- Nutritional support. Our multidisciplinary team of nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists and others work together to help you get the nutrition you need to stay as healthy as possible. This can include advice about a low-residue diet to avoid blockages or a special diet that you take through a feeding tube to rest your bowel. Nutrients can also be injected into a vein.
- Other medicines. In addition to treating your inflammation, you may also take medicines such as pain relievers, anti-diarrheal medicines and antibiotics. Your provider may also recommend iron, calcium and vitamin D supplements.
- Radiology. Imaging tests help your provider pinpoint the location and extent of your inflammatory bowel disease. These tests can also show how you are responding to treatment.
- Surgery. If your quality of life continues to suffer, even with medications, surgery may be your next option. Your team at Lahey will determine the appropriate procedure for your specific condition and symptoms. Surgery for inflammatory bowel disease often involves removing the damaged part of your digestive tract. In some cases, it can be done with minimally invasive techniques.
Inflammatory bowel disease is a lifelong condition. We’re with you for the long haul with support such as:
- Counseling and therapy. Living with inflammatory bowel disease can be exhausting, and it’s easy to start feeling down. Our counselors help you find ways to stay positive and optimistic. An improved outlook can make a difference in your pain level, help you feel less tired and make you more likely to keep up with your medications. Mindfulness training can be especially helpful with inflammatory bowel disease.
- Nursing support for stoma care. One type of surgery for inflammatory bowel disease involves diverting the large intestine to an opening surgeons create in the abdomen. This is called a colostomy and it can be temporary or permanent. The new intestinal opening is called a stoma and it requires specific care. Our stoma care nurses help you every step of the way. They manage the stoma care after surgery, coach you on caring for your stoma, help you get the right supplies and more. They also identify problems early and get you the help you need to heal.
- Support Groups. Talking to people who have similar experiences as you can be helpful as you deal with inflammatory bowel disease. We can help you find a support group that fits with your personal issues and preferences.
Research for Better Care
Today there are many promising treatments and management techniques for patients who are living with inflammatory bowel disease. This means fewer people are hospitalized and far more lead fulfilling lives. That’s true in large part because of the newer, more effective medications.
Lahey is at the forefront of this trend. We continue to take part in many clinical trials of new therapies for inflammatory bowel disease. This gives our patients the opportunity to try leading-edge medications that aren’t available elsewhere.