Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, is a chronic condition that often requires lifelong treatment and management of symptoms. As part of our Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center and Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center—Long Island, NYU Langone gastroenterologists partner with you to create a personalized treatment plan that helps to achieve and maintain disease remission, relieve symptoms, and maximize your quality of life.
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If you’ve had surgery for IBD, our specially trained team of gastroenterologists, surgeons, nutritionists, nurses, pain management specialists, and counselors provides medical care and emotional support as you recover from surgery.
Successful management of IBD often requires long-term medical therapy, even if you don’t always have symptoms. A consistent regimen of medication helps prevent symptoms from flaring and the disease from progressing.
For people with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, treatment may involve taking medication by mouth daily, injecting medication at home one or more times a month, or having medication administered through a vein with intravenous (IV) infusion at NYU Langone.
Gastroenterologists recommend frequent follow-up appointments to monitor the effectiveness and potential side effects of treatment. If necessary, they adjust your treatment plan to increase the medication’s effectiveness and reduce any side effects.
Symptoms of IBD may change over time. Your NYU Langone gastroenterologist schedules periodic follow-up appointments and blood, endoscopic, and imaging tests to monitor how well treatment is controlling your symptoms and maintaining disease remission. Follow-up tests are also important because they enable your doctor to monitor you for any side effects.
If the tests show that the disease has progressed, or the medications are causing side effects, your doctor may adjust the dose or type of medication prescribed or discuss surgical options with you.
If you have had IBD for eight years or more, you are considered to be at high risk for dysplasia, a condition in which a person has precancerous cells, which can lead to colorectal cancer.
For this reason, our specialists usually recommend a screening colonoscopy every one to two years. Periodic colonoscopies allow the gastroenterologist to view the inside of the colon and rectum and identify and biopsy any active IBD areas or polyps.
The goal is to detect any cancer early, when it is highly curable, and to prevent cancer by identifying pre-cancerous conditions—such as dysplasia or certain polyps—before cancer develops.
For some people, complications of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis can require surgery to remove part of the small or large intestine. In many instances, a surgeon connects the remaining intestine to an opening in the abdomen and to an ostomy bag outside of the body to collect stool.
At NYU Langone, a specialized team of physicians and nurses helps people adjust to living with an ostomy bag, whether it is required for a few months in between surgeries or for the rest of your life. Our ostomy nurses teach you how to keep the stoma clean and dispose of the external bags when they are full. They also provide emotional support.
Sometimes, certain dietary factors may exacerbate the symptoms of IBD. In addition, people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis often have nutritional deficiencies because the digestive system is not able to fully absorb all of the vitamins and minerals it needs. In particular, people with inflammatory bowel disease may be deficient in iron, folate, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.
Nutritionists at the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center can help you create a dietary plan to ensure that you optimize your gastrointestinal health and consume the right amount of vitamins and minerals. They can also recommend the appropriate supplements.
Research shows that stress can exacerbate the symptoms of IBD. NYU Langone’s Integrative Health Services include programs and therapies designed to ease stress and help you relax. These include acupressure, acupuncture, meditation, and tai chi.
Clinical psychotherapists at NYU Langone are available to help you cope with the challenges of living with IBD. In addition, our support groups provide comfort, encouragement, and practical tips from other people living with IBD.
Using tobacco products has been proven to negatively affect gastrointestinal health. In fact, it may prevent intestinal ulcers from healing. Our doctors recommend that every person diagnosed with IBD quit smoking. They understand that this is not easy and offer Tobacco Cessation Programs to help you.
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