What is the second step in medication therapy for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?

Updated: Apr 10, 2020
  • Author: William A Rowe, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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If the patient's condition fails to respond to an adequate dose of aminosalicylates, the second step is often corticosteroids, which tend to provide rapid relief of symptoms and a significant decrease in inflammation. [85] The most common range for moderate flares of IBD is oral prednisone at 10-40 mg/day; for more severe flares, the higher end of the range is used (occasionally doses up to 60 mg/day). Once a clinical response is seen, the dose is tapered. Most patients who use oral corticosteroids can tolerate a relatively rapid taper after a response is achieved; occasionally, a very prolonged steroid taper is necessary to prevent relapse in patients who have had prolonged exposure to steroids in the past. Inability to taper down the steroids without recurrence of symptoms should trigger discussion regarding the use of alternative drugs (immunomodulators or anti-TNF therapy). The advantage of steroids is that they work quickly and are effective for acute flares; they are not effective for maintenance of remission, however.

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