NFL quarterback David Garrard was sidelined two years into his pro career by a gut check that caused him agonizing stomach pains.
Diagnosed in 2004 with Crohn's disease - an inflammatory bowel disease that attacks the lining of the digestive tract - he had 12 inches of his intestines removed. Garrard then started taking the biologic infliximab. It decreases gut inflammation, eases symptoms and may lead to remission. Remarkably, he continued as a Jacksonville Jaguar quarterback until 2010, and his current position as a backup quarterback for the New York Jets is a testimony to how effective treatment can be when done promptly and aggressively.
However, most of the more than 600,000 folks in North America with Crohn's are advised to try "conventional" treatment, including corticosteroids and aminosalicylates, such as sulfasalazine, before opting for more aggressive and potentially more risky biologic therapies.
A study of 2,000 people with Crohn's has triggered new treatment recommendations called accelerated step-care. The REACT (Randomized Evaluation of an Algorithm for Crohn's Treatment) study shows that taking a monoclonal antibody, such as infliximab, along with an antimetabolite such as methotrexate, even before symptoms are severe, produces positive results. After 12 months, more folks were in remission, and after 24, there were fewer surgeries and less hospitalizations than in a group given standard treatment.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.