You May Have An Increased Risk Of Miscarriage And Other Pregnancy Complications
Bonthala notices that many of her patients who are pregnant or trying to conceive are wary of taking medications to treat their ulcerative colitis, citing concerns about how the treatment may affect their baby.
Its important to put out there that the vast majority of medications are safe for pregnancy and for breastfeeding with only a few exceptions, she says. A bigger risk to pregnancy? Untreated IBD.
In fact, a September 2020 review published in the journal Digestion found that active IBD is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm delivery, low birth weight, and other pregnancy complications. The researchers found that women who have inactive disease before conceiving have pregnancy outcomes that are similar to women without IBD.
If youre trying to get pregnant, Bonthala recommends getting your ulcerative colitis under control first. If youre already pregnant and are having a flare, seek treatment as soon as possible.
Should You Consider Surgery
It’s not an immediate fix, and not everyone needs an operation to keep UC in check. But for some people, it can help.
Your doctor might suggest surgery if you’ve had the condition for a long time, or if your flares are so severe that drugs no longer control them. An operation might help prevent colon cancer, which people with UC are more likely to get.
There are two different types of procedures. Both surgeries remove the colon and rectum. Once those parts are gone, so are the pain, inflammation, and constant urges to go to the bathroom that happen during a flare. You’ll still need to go often, but less than before.
In one operation, the surgeon uses the end of your own small bowel to create a pouch connected to your anus on the inside of your body.
In the other procedure, the surgeon creates a small opening in the abdomen to collect waste in a removable pouch on the outside of the body.
Your doctor can let you know if either operation would help you.
What Will You Need
Your needs will depend on your symptoms, and each person is different. Your ulcerative colitis could start out as mild, then stop for a while, only to come back worse than it was before. Or you may have only mild ulcerative colitis your entire life.
Plus, your body may not respond the same way to a drug as someone else’s. And over time, you may find that you need a different type of medicine. For example, something thatâs worked well for years may not work anymore. You may need a whole new treatment plan.
Let your doctor know how youâre really doing, and always tell them about any side effects that you have.
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Get Regular Exercise To Reduce Uc Inflammation
Snider says exercise is useful in managing many of the complications associated with ulcerative colitis, including decreased bone density, a weakened immune system, emotional health problems, stress, and weight gain.
“Try to engage in a moderate-intensity exercise like swimming or biking, three or four days per week,” he says. A review published in August 2016 in Pharmacological Reports noted that moderate exercise releases protective myokines such as irisin from working skeletal muscles, which promotes healing and helps with inflammatory bowel disease inflammation.
Snider also strongly recommends yoga as a natural treatment for ulcerative colitis, as it promotes relaxation and targets the digestive system, flooding the area with oxygen and nutrition for healing. Find what type and frequency of exercise works for you and take it slow: Too much exercise can cause mild systemic inflammation.
Research indicates that stress plays a role in inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis. Researchers analyzed data on 2,007 adults in a Swiss IBD study and found a relationship between depression and anxiety and disease symptoms. The results were published in June 2016 in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
Counteract stress with relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation to help your body relax.
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How Is Ulcerative Colitis Treated
Theres no cure for ulcerative colitis, but treatments can calm the inflammation, help you feel better and get you back to your daily activities. Treatment also depends on the severity and the individual, so treatment depends on each persons needs. Usually, healthcare providers manage the disease with medications. If your tests reveal infections that are causing problems, your healthcare provider will treat those underlying conditions and see if that helps.
The goal of medication is to induce and maintain remission, and to improve the quality of life for people with ulcerative colitis. Healthcare providers use several types of medications to calm inflammation in your large intestine. Reducing the swelling and irritation lets the tissue heal. It can also relieve your symptoms so you have less pain and less diarrhea. For children, teenagers and adults, your provider may recommend:
Children and young teenagers are prescribed the same medications. In addition to medications, some doctors also recommend that children take vitamins to get the nutrients they need for health and growth that they may not have gotten through food due to the effects of the disease on the bowel. Ask your healthcare provider for specific advice about the need for vitamin supplementation for your child.
You might need surgery that removes your colon and rectum to:
- Avoid medication side effects.
- Prevent or treat colon cancer .
- Eliminate life-threatening complications such as bleeding.
Tips To Control Your Ulcerative Colitis Flares
You want to calm the flares that strike when you have ulcerative colitis . And if you keep your disease in check, you may also have fewer symptoms over time.
Your flares might be different from someone else’s. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and are often unpredictable. You might get diarrhea and feel an urgent need to go to the bathroom. You could have blood in your stool and be tired a lot.
Use these five tips to keep your flares in check.
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How Is Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosed In Children
Diagnosing ulcerative colitis begins with an examination and a detailed medical history. Your childs clinician will rule out other possible causes and may recommend one or more of the following tests:
- blood tests
Drug therapy can reduce inflammation and control symptoms. Ulcerative colitis medications may include:
- anti-inflammatory drugs, such as steroids, to bring the disease under control
- immune system suppressants that can reduce swelling
- antibiotics to treat related complications, such as abscesses or fistulas
- antiulcer/H2 blockers to treat related ulcers and irritation
Drugs That Target Inflammation
Most people with UC take prescription drugs called aminosalicylates that tame inflammation in the gut. These include balsalazide , mesalamine , olsalazine , and sulfasalazine . Which one you take, and whether it is taken by mouth or as an enema or suppository, depend on the area of your colon that’s affected. As long as you avoid your triggers, these may be enough if your disease is mild to moderate.
You may need something else if your condition is more severe or if those standard treatments stop working. Your doctor may consider other medicines. Some people may also need surgery.
Follow Up With Your Doctor
You may only need at-home or short-term care for some kinds of colitis. But UC is a condition youâll have for the rest of your life. And it affects everyone in a different way. Youâll need to work with your doctor to find a treatment plan that works for you.
No matter whatâs causing your symptoms, get medical care right away if you have:
- Watery diarrhea for more than a few days
- Heavy, ongoing diarrhea
Key Points About Ulcerative Colitis In Children
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease. In this condition, the inner lining of your childs large intestine and rectum gets inflamed.
This inflammation causes diarrhea or frequent emptying of the colon. Your child may also have stomach pain and diarrhea.
Treatment may include avoiding foods that cause symptoms, taking medicine, and having surgery.
Children with this condition need long-term care. Your child may have times when symptoms go away. But symptoms usually come back.
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What Should I Ask My Doctor On Behalf Of My Child Or Teenager
Ask your healthcare provider the following questions in addition to the ones listed above:
- What vitamins should my child take?
- Will my other children have pediatric ulcerative colitis?
- Is my child at risk for other conditions?
- Can you recommend a psychiatrist or therapist to help my child with emotional issues related to pediatric ulcerative colitis?
- Is my child growing at a normal rate?
- What can I do to help my child cope at school?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
When you have ulcerative colitis, its essential to work closely with your healthcare team.
Take your medications as prescribed, even when you dont have symptoms. Skipping medications youre supposed to take can lead to flareups and make the disease harder to control. Your best shot at managing ulcerative colitis is to follow your treatment plan and talk to your healthcare provider regularly.
Diet And Lifestyle Changes To Try
Managing ulcerative colitis isnt just about taking medication. You can embrace certain lifestyle changes that can help improve your overall health. For example, you should make sure youre staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, but you might want to reduce your intake of items like alcoholic and carbonated beverages or even skip them altogether, Dr. Pasha says.
As for your food, you might benefit from taking inspiration from a Mediterranean-style diet when youre not experiencing an acute flare, says Dr. Pasha. This kind of diet typically includes lots of fruits and vegetables, as well as olive oil as a primary fat source, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and some amounts of low-fat dairy and lean sources of protein like fish and poultry, per the American Heart Association. Many of these foods are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, although its not clear how much that might really help combat ulcerative colitis symptoms. Also, its important to be cautious about high-fiber foods, including some like whole grains that are integral to the Mediterranean diet, if youre experiencing any flare-ups, as that might exacerbate the problem.
The Mayo Clinic also recommends limiting your dairy intake, since many people with inflammatory bowel disease like UC have some trouble processing lactose in foods and experience diarrhea and pain as a result, according to the Mayo Clinic.
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Blood And Stool Tests
A blood test can show if you have anemia, which is a symptom of ulcerative colitis. Anemia happens when your red blood cells decrease and there arenât enough of them to carry adequate oxygen to your tissues. A blood test will also help identify or rule out other infections.
The blood test can also detect an increase in white blood cells, a low level of the protein albumin, and an elevated C-reactive protein level all indications of inflammation in your body.
When you go to the doctorâs office, they will take a little of your blood and send it off for analysis. The results will come back anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks later.
A stool test may be ordered to rule out infection. Learn more about stool testing.
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How Is Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosed In A Child
Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about your child’s health history. He or she will also give your child an exam.
Your child will have blood tests. These tests can tell if your child has anemia. They can also tell if your child has a high white blood cell count. This can be a sign of inflammation. Your childs healthcare provider may also do other tests.
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How Do Doctors Treat Ulcerative Colitis
Doctors treat ulcerative colitis with medicines and surgery. Each person experiences ulcerative colitis differently, and doctors recommend treatments based on how severe ulcerative colitis is and how much of the large intestine is affected. Doctors most often treat severe and fulminant ulcerative colitis in a hospital.
What Causes Ulcerative Colitis
We arent quite sure what causes UC. We used to think that diet and stress were possible causes, but now we think of these as triggers that can aggravate symptoms rather than acting as causes.
Immune system dysfunction may be a potential cause of UC. An abnormal immune response against invading pathogens may cause damage to the gut.
Genes may also contribute to the development of UC, as the disease is more common in people with a family history of it.
UC can range from being a debilitating illness to causing fatal complications. The symptoms can vary, depending upon the level of inflammation and site of the lesion.
The majority of people with UC tend to develop mild to moderate symptoms, such as:
- urgency to defecate
In a small number of cases, people with UC may develop severe complications, such as major bleeding, colonic perforation, skin and eye issues, colonic malignancy, and thrombosis.
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Are There Treatments Available
There are multiple treatments available to a patient with this condition depending on its severity. These drugs have worked well for some and not so well for others so its important to consult with a specialist on the best path of action for you. The most common forms of treatment for Ulcerative Colitis include:
- Anti Inflammatory Drugs Considered one of the first steps in treating this condition anti inflammatory drugs can begin to help reduce inflammation in the colon area. There is a wide range of anti inflammatory drugs available on the market.
- Immune System Suppressors Because Ulcerative Colitis is caused by the immune system making a mistake in the colon it can often be treated by suppressing this function. There are multiple forms of immune system suppressors including Tofacitinib , Cyclosporine and Azathioprine .
- Surgery For some advanced stages of this condition surgery may be considered if it has become life threatening. This surgery is quite invasive and involves removing the colon and in many cases it involves a procedure called ileoanal anastomosis surgery. This is why it is very important to know and understand early warning signs of this condition to detect it early.
Living With An Ileostomy
You can live a long, active, and productive life with an ileostomy. In many cases, ileostomy patients can participate in the same activities they did before the surgery, including sports, outdoor activities, swimming and other watersports, travel, and work.
Whether your ileostomy is permanent or temporary, it is common for patients to initially feel self-conscious about their ostomy and you may notice a change in how you feel about your body image. Some patients prefer to limit how visible the bag is to others. The ostomy bag typically lays fairly flat under your clothing.
Remember, it is just as important to take care of your mental and emotional health as it is your physical health. Speak with your doctor or a mental health professional if you feel you are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety.
There are several pouching systems for you to choose from. You will learn how to use your system as well as how to care for the skin surrounding the stoma.
Talk to your doctor about any specific dietary restrictions with an ileostomy. It is important for you to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and loss of electrolytes.
Eating foods high in pectin, including applesauce, bananas, and peanut butter, will help thicken your stool output and control diarrhea. Discuss this with your doctor.
The United Ostomy Associations of America has additional resources as you learn to live with your ostomy.
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Ulcerative Colitis Diet: What To Eat To Manage Symptoms
Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease in which the immune system is thought to attack the gut lining, failing to recognise it as part of the body. A focused ulcerative colitis diet may therefore help with the management of symptoms. With the guidance of an IBD team or a dietician, those suffering from ulcerative colitis can be put on an elimination diet in order to identify potential trigger foods, or may be encouraged to keep a food diary in order to track links between certain foods and symptoms.
Those who have undergone surgery or are struggling with an ulcerative colitis flare up may be put on a low residue diet or a low fiber diet in order to manage symptoms and lessen the burden of their disease.
However, ulcerative colitis diets are often unique to the individual, so some experimentation under medical supervision may be necessary to find the right eating pattern for you. An ulcerative colitis diet may not work at all either, so it is important to collaborate with your medical team in order to properly manage your condition.