Antibiotics for Crohn's disease

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Doctor's Responses Archive

Viewer Question:

Can Crohn's disease sometimes be treated with antibiotics?

Doctor's Response:

Yes, patients with Crohn's disease are treated with antibiotics. Only a small percentage of patients seem to benefit, however. Moreover, it is not clear if the antibiotics are working through an immune-suppressing or an anti-bacterial mechanism. (Some antibiotics are mild immune suppressants and have antiinflammation properties.) There is also the confounding roles of extra-intestinal infections (infections outside of the intestines) and bacterial overgrowth within the intestine, both of which would respond to antibiotics.

There is a continuing push of mainstream research on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD, including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis) into the role of intestinal bacteria in the initiation and perpetuation of IBD. It's interesting research and could be important.

Thank you for your question.

Jay W. Marks, M.D.
Medical and Pharmacy Editor,

Last Editorial Review: 8/7/2002

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