Ilyas Memon, MD

How Corticosteroids Can Help Manage Crohn’s Disease

Apr 01, 2023

How Corticosteroids Can Help Manage Crohn’s Disease

Corticosteroids are one of several treatment options that can offer relief for the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Learn about how corticosteroids work, why they are prescribed, and what side effects to watch for.

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory digestive disease affecting more than half a million Americans. It can lead to many troublesome symptoms, including diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal pain.

In addition, Crohn’s disease can cause unplanned weight loss, anemia, fatigue, joint pain, and even skin and eye symptoms such as skin bumps and eye redness. It can even raise the risk of colorectal cancer.

Care providers can recommend various treatments for Crohn’s disease. Each treatment offers its own profile of advantages and disadvantages. The type of treatment recommended for you depends on the types of symptoms you are experiencing, your medical history, and other factors.

One of the treatment options that individuals living with Crohn’s sometimes receive are corticosteroids, which are more commonly referred to as steroids.

Treating Crohn’s disease effectively requires specialized training and experience, which is what Dr. Ilyas Memon’s patients have come to expect from him. Dr. Memon, a board-certified gastroenterologist, is a skilled Crohn’s disease clinician. He works closely with the care team at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants care team in The Woodlands, Texas, to ensure our Crohn’s disease patients receive the treatment that best suits their needs.

Here, Dr. Memon shares information about how corticosteroids can help manage Crohn’s disease.

A source of inflammation

Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disorder in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your gastrointestinal system. During a Crohn’s attack, your body unleashes autoinflammation in your small intestine, large intestine, and/or other parts of your digestive system.

For most people, Crohn’s symptoms come and go. During an attack, you experience inflammation that causes various symptoms. When the attack ends, symptoms diminish or disappear.

There are several ways to treat Crohn’s flare-ups. They include bowel rest (limiting what and how much you eat or drink for a recommended period), surgery (in serious cases), and various types of medication, including corticosteroids.

How corticosteroids help

Corticosteroids reduce inflammation and slow down your immune system’s action. As your immune system becomes less reactive, inflammation decreases and symptoms are reduced or eliminated.

Several types of corticosteroids are prescribed for Crohn’s disease, including:

  • Prednisone
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Budesonide
  • Methylprednisolone

Downside of corticosteroids

Corticosteroids can be very effective in relieving Crohn’s symptoms. However, providers generally don’t recommend taking them for long periods because they may cause bone loss, high blood pressure, and/or elevated blood sugar. Corticosteroids can also make it more difficult for your body to fight off infection.

In addition, corticosteroids may also cause annoying side effects. Although everyone responds in their own way to steroids, some common side effects include weight gain, mood swings, and acne.

Because of the adverse effects of corticosteroids, your provider may prescribe them only when your symptoms are serious, or other treatments aren’t helping you. Or you may take them for a short amount of time until your Crohn’s flare-up passes. 

Find relief for your Crohn’s symptoms

If you’re experiencing Crohn’s symptoms, the care providers here at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants can help. Our providers evaluate your symptoms and create a customized treatment plan that best suits your needs. To schedule an office visit for Crohn’s disease or any other digestive condition, please call 281-764-9500 or book an appointment online.