Medicated

How Do the Most Popular Crohn’s Disease Drugs Stack Up?


by Carissa Andrew - April 10, 2017


Liubov Edwards for CanadaPharmacyOnline.com
Liubov Edwards for CanadaPharmacyOnline.com

Crohn’s Disease is an autoimmune disorder affecting millions of people worldwide. Considered an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s can affect any portion of the gastrointestinal tract (GI) from mouth to anus, with a typical onset between 15 and 30 years old. In the United States, studies are finding an uptick in diagnosed patients in both children and adults.

The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is still unknown, though it does seem to be due to a combination of factors from environmental to genetic predisposition. For smokers, there is also a higher risk of developing Crohn’s.

There are multiple ways to test for Crohn’s disease, but no one definitive test is used. The series of tests most people go through include: blood tests to determine if you have an infection or if you’re anemic, fecal testing to look for blood in the stool, capsule endoscopy or double-balloon endoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, and image testing (CT or MRI) of the intestinal tract.

When it comes to knowing your score, paying attention and being on the lookout for symptoms is your best bet. Let’s take a closer look at what those are.

CROHN’S DISEASE SYMPTOMS:

Some of the most common symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss, and pain in the lower to middle abdomen.

Other general symptoms of Crohn’s include fatigue, fever, and night sweats. Many patients experience an urgent need to use the bathroom, though constipation can also be a problem. There is evidence to suggest that women with Crohn’s may have their menstrual cycle interrupted. For young children, Crohn’s disease may even delay development.

Most Crohn’s patients have episodes of disease activity followed by a period of remission. According to those who suffer from this disease, the stress of a flare-up can lead to anxiety and social withdrawal.

Personally, I can remember a coworker of mine from a few years ago who struggled with social anxiety in relation to Crohn’s. At the time, I wasn’t as familiar with the disease. She would often spend her days entirely in her office, even avoiding the fun office parties we had from time to time.

TREATMENTS:

Unfortunately, there’s currently no cure for Crohn’s disease and no way to avoid getting it. There are multiple treatments, however, which typically take the form of a combination approach.

Because Crohn’s is an autoimmune disorder, taking immune suppressants to help control your inflammatory response is generally the first step. Combining it with medications to manage and treat individual symptoms is the next.

Budesonide is a man-made steroid and is incorporated in the two most popular drugs used to treat Crohn’s disease. We’ll be discussing the two most popular in just a moment, though it’s important to note they are not interchangeable. This is because they treat different portions of the colon, depending on the issue.

According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, as many as 70% of Crohn’s patients will need surgery to remove or repair damaged sections of their bowel.

Being aware of your diet is the final piece. Certain foods my trigger symptoms and cause flair ups, even after you have begun to heal.

ENTOCORT EC

While this medication will not cure Crohn’s it will decreases pain and other symptoms, such as diarrhea. It works by decreasing the body’s exaggerated immune response using the corticosteroid called budesonide. Entocort EC’s release happens higher up, as it targets the ileum and ascending colon in treatment of Crohn’s disease. The dosage for both adults and children aged 8-17 is 9mg (in the form of 3, 3mg gelatin capsules), taken daily for up to eight weeks.

Entocort EC’s most common side effect is nausea and weight gain. Alcohol consumption isn’t recommended when on this medication because of the negative interactions. Oddly enough, people taking Entocort EC should not eat grapefruit, as it can increase the drug concentration.

Because this drug is a mild steroid, patients on Entocort EC run an increased risk of infection and must take the proper precautions to not suppress their immune systems even more.

UCERIS

Because this medication’s active ingredient is also budesonide, it’s meant to treat short term pain and other symptoms such as diarrhea. It’s not meant to be a cure. Uceris is slightly different in that it targets the entire colon and is more popular for the treatment of ulcerative colitis(UC). UC is a disease which causes inflammation and sores throughout the large intestine (colon). It generally affects the lower section, including the rectum, but it can affect the entire colon. According to the manufacturer’s website, Uceris tablets dissolve at a pH ≥7.0. During this process, the pill matrix expands and forms a hydrogel, which is what makes it so effective throughout the whole colon.

Uceris’s most common side effect is also nausea and weight gain, though not as prevalent as with Entocort. Alcohol should not be consumed when on this medication, nor grapefruit for the same reasons as Entocort EC.

Crohn’s disease is a lifelong disease that can make a person’s day-to-day more complicated. Luckily, with the right treatments and lifestyle changes, it can be effectively managed. While Uceris is used most commonly for ulcerative colitis, it has been used effectively on Crohn’s disease patients. However, it’s important to note it’s not currently approved by the FDA for this condition. Instead, Entocort EC is more widely used for those with this chronic disease. If you’ve been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, be sure to talk to your doctor about the options you have available to you. They may include both Entocort EC or Uceris to help you manage this inflammatory disease so you can live your best life.

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