Uc And Your Mental Health
It almost goes without saying that UC can have a major impact on your mental health. The mind-gut connection is real, meaning that everyday stress can manifest in digestive symptoms. Of course, this relationship goes both ways, too: Stress can cause GI symptoms that can cause stress you get the idea.
Whats more is that research, like this study in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, shows that people with IBD are at increased risk of developing symptoms like anxiety and depression, and sometimes full-blown depressive or anxiety disorders.
Its no wonderliving with a condition like UC thats shrouded in stigma can be isolating, and the fear of symptoms flaring up unexpectedly is often anxiety-provoking and stressful. When your symptoms can interfere with your ability to go to work, go to school, or even just hang out with friends and family, it can take a serious toll on your mental health.
Building a strong support system of friends, family, and your health care team is important to remove some of that emotional burden. Working with a therapist is also a valuable optionthey can teach you techniques to reduce your anxiety, transform your mindset, and more.
How Can I Find Support After An Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosis
When taking care of your physical well-being, dont forget that ulcerative colitis can take a toll on your emotional and mental well-being too. If it turns out your symptoms are ulcerative colitis, you can find a support group, or ask your doctor if they can connect you with a therapist or G.I. psychologist. Dr. Riehl, for example, works with patients on aspects of body image and even connects them with other patients who have experienced colectomy or ostomy . We talk openly about the impact that it can have on them from an intimacy perspective to how it impacts their self-identity, she says.
Since ulcerative colitis often starts at an age when people are thinking about their first job or starting a family, it can be particularly tough. One of the reasons that I and several of my colleagues went into this field is precisely because of thatso that we can hopefully make a difference in peoples lives early, and have them be able to lead productive and complete lives by putting their disease in remission, Dr. Sinha says.
What Is Ulcerative Colitis Exactly
Ulcerative colitis is one of the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease . The other is Crohns disease. U.C. occurs when the immune system malfunctions, causing inflammation and ulcers to appear on the inner lining of the large intestine, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases . Its not comfortable, to put it mildly, and not something that will clear up quickly.
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic illness that does not yet have a medical cure. That doesnt mean nothing can be done though, so dont despair if youre experiencing symptoms. Sidhartha Sinha, M.D., a gastroenterologist, assistant professor at Stanford Medicine, and researcher who specializes in IBD, tells SELF that while there arent medical cures for ulcerative colitis, there are medical treatments. And we have made great advancements in these treatments, he says. The last resort is a surgical option called colectomythe removal of the entire colonwhich can eliminate U.C. entirely.
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Is It Important To Treat A Flare Early Or Is It Ok To Wait A Bit
Inflammation typically does not resolve without treatment and early intervention has a better outcome than waiting to treat. At an early stage of a flare, a more optimal baseline treatment is often enough to get the inflammation under control. If you wait, there is a greater risk that you might need drugs with greater side effects, such as oral steroids. By waiting, you will have to manage longer with your symptoms before getting relief. Living with constant or longer periods of inflammation might increase your risk for future complications, as inflammation might cause damage to the gut wall that accumulates in severity with each flare.
If you are experiencing worsening symptoms, you have probably already had the flare for some time without symptoms. Evidence shows that a stool test for inflammation in the colon, called fecal calprotectin, is often elevated for two to three months before any symptoms appear. Your colon might also start to show visual evidence of inflammation before you have symptoms, or at least indicate an increased risk for a flare.
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So What Exactly Is Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative Colitis is a condition that affects the digestive tract and is a form of irritable bowel syndrome. It causes inflammation and ulcers inside the digestive tract specifically in the large intestine and rectum.2 This disease develops over time and doesnt suddenly onset but if left untreated can become life threatening with developments into other health disorders. Whilst there is no exact cure early detection has been proven to be life saving and help patients into long term remission.
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What Are Ulcerative Colitis Flare
With treatment , many people with ulcerative colitis will go into remission. That just means that you will have periods of time where your symptoms will be greatly reduced or nonexistent. That could mean weeks, months, or even years for some people, according to the Mayo Clinic. Unfortunately, ulcerative colitis flare-ups can occur. If you start feeling familiar symptoms like increased diarrhea, cramping, or rectal bleeding, let your medical team know.
Dr. Sinha says that sometimes symptoms can be more subtle during a flare, like bloating or fatigue. As far as triggers go, he says there are clear associations between IBD and stress. In my practice, I treat patients who are also students. Not uncommonly, we see students experiencing flares during exam times or other periods of high stress.
This is why, he says, its important that we not only consider medical treatments, but also take the overall picture into account, including diet, exercise, and other therapies.
Whats The Difference Between Ulcerative Colitis And Crohns Disease
UC and Crohns disease are the most common forms of IBD. Both conditions are thought to be the result of an overactive immune system.
They also share many symptoms, including:
However, UC and Crohns disease do have distinct differences. Understanding the key differences between them can help you obtain a proper diagnosis.
These two conditions affect different portions of the GI tract.
Crohns disease may affect any part of the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus. Its most often found in the small intestine. UC only affects the large intestine and rectum.
Response to treatment
Similar medications are prescribed to treat both conditions. Surgery is also a treatment option. Its a last resort for both conditions, but it can be a cure for UC, whereas its only a temporary therapy for Crohns.
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Is An Ulcerative Colitis Flare
Because diarrhea is the main clinical symptom of ulcerative colitis, a flare-up without diarrhea would be very atypical. Stool frequency is usually one criterion assessed to determine flare-up severity.
A flare-up may be conceivable if the affected person has increasing abdominal pain, cramping, and bloody stool. If other symptoms, like fever or fatigue, occur without diarrhea, your healthcare provider should investigate other possible conditions.
If the disease activity is unclear, a control colonoscopy may help: If there are no signs of inflammation on the inner lining of the large intestine, this is called endoscopic remission. Even if there are no visible signs, however, there may still be ongoing microscopic inflammation, especially in mild cases. Examining tissue samples under a microscope can assess if there is inflammation.
When To See A Doctor
If youve been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, its important to see your doctor if you develop severe symptoms. Some of these may include severe abdominal pain or cramping, high fever, or chronic diarrhea that is hard to treat.
You should also see your doctor if you develop severe rectal bleeding, dehydration, or swelling in the skin or joints. Healthline says these symptoms can be associated with complications of ulcerative colitis. Its important to work closely with your healthcare team to manage the disease and help you live a normal, healthy life.
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Complications Of Ulcerative Colitis
Complications of ulcerative colitis include:
- primary sclerosing cholangitis where the bile ducts inside the liver become damaged
- an increased risk of developing bowel cancer
- poor growth and development in children and young people
Also, some of the medications used to treat ulcerative colitis can cause weakening of the bones as a side effect.
Dietary And Lifestyle Modifications
As most nutrients are absorbed higher up in the digestive tract, those with ulcerative colitis generally do not have nutrient deficiencies however, other factors might influence your nutritional state. Disease symptoms may cause food avoidance, leading to food choices that might not provide a balanced diet. If bleeding is excessive, problems such as anemia may occur, and modifications to the diet will be necessary to compensate for this.
Generally, better overall nutrition provides the body with the means to heal itself, but research and clinical experience show that diet changes alone cannot manage this disease. Depending on the extent and location of inflammation, you may have to follow a special diet, including supplementation. It is important to follow Canadas Food Guide, but this is not always easy for individuals with ulcerative colitis. We encourage you to consult a registered dietitian, who can help set up an effective, personalized nutrition plan by addressing disease-specific deficiencies and your sensitive digestive tract. Some foods may irritate the bowel and increase symptoms even though they do not worsen the disease.
In more severe cases, it might be necessary to allow the bowel time to rest and heal. Specialized diets, easy to digest meal substitutes , and fasting with intravenous feeding can achieve incremental degrees of bowel rest.
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Complications Outside The Bowel
Colitis doesnt just affect the bowel. As many as 1 in 5 people with Colitis develop problems in other parts of the body. Most affected are joints, eyes or skin. These are known as extraintestinal manifestations . They usually happen during a flare-up, but can occur without or before any bowel symptoms. These complications can often happen to people who dont have Colitis too. For many of the complications, there are things you can do to reduce your risk.
You may have pain and/or swelling in your joints. Around 1 in 6 people with Colitis experiences joint problems. For some, this will get worse during a flare, but will usually improve with treatment for Colitis. Others may have joint problems even when bowel symptoms feel better. Find out more in Joints.
People with Colitis are more at risk of developing thinner and weaker bones or osteoporosis. This can be due to ongoing inflammation, smoking, taking steroids or low levels of physical activity. Calcium is needed for bone formation, and this may be low if your diet doesnt contain enough dairy. Weight-bearing exercise, calcium and vitamin D supplements, not smoking and avoiding long-term steroid use can help. Some people may also take bisphosphonate medicines. Find out more in our information on Bones.
Colitis can affect the skin in different parts of the body.
Anaemia can make you feel very tired. If its more severe you may also have shortness of breath, headaches, and general weakness.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Ulcerative Colitis
The most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis are cramping belly pain and diarrhea. Other symptoms include:
- blood in the toilet, on toilet paper, or in the stool
- urgent need to poop
- low energy
- weight loss
Ulcerative coliits can cause other problems, such as rashes, eye problems, joint pain and arthritis, and liver disease. Kids with ulcerative colitis may not grow well as well as other kids their age and puberty may happen later than normal.
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Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms: The Complete Guide
Ulcerative colitis is a recurrent, chronic inflammatory bowel disease that typically is onset between ages 20 and 35. In contrast to Crohn’s disease, which mainly involves the small intestine, ulcerative colitis mainly affects the large intestine .
Symptoms outside the large intestine are possible, such as skin changes, for example. Because there are other conditions that can occur alongside ulcerative colitis, it is important to know the possible symptoms and associated conditions to identify disease early and to avoid misdiagnosis.
What Is Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms Causes Diagnosis And Treatment
Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease in which the lining of the large intestine becomes inflamed.
The small intestine is rarely affected.
There are several subtypes of ulcerative colitis, which are named according to the part of the colon affected:
- Ulcerative proctitis, which affects only the rectum
- Proctosigmoiditis, which affects the rectum and lower segment of the colon
- Left-sided colitis, which affects the rectum, sigmoid colon, and descending colon up to the sharp bend near the spleen
- Pan-ulcerative or total colitis, which affects the entire colon
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Who Gets Ulcerative Colitis
Anyone at any age, including young children, can get ulcerative colitis. Your chance of getting it is slightly higher if you:
- Have a close relative with inflammatory bowel disease .
- Are between 15 and 30 years old, or older than 60.
- Are Jewish.
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Can I Get Surgery For My Ulcerative Colitis
Surgery is an option if medications arent working or you have complications, such as bleeding or abnormal growths. You might develop precancerous lesions, or growths that can turn into colorectal cancer. A doctor can remove these lesions with surgery or during a colonoscopy.
Research shows that about 30% of people with ulcerative colitis need surgery sometime during their life. About 20% of children with ulcerative colitis will need surgery during their childhood years.
There are two kinds of surgery for ulcerative colitis:
Proctocolectomy and ileoanal pouch
The proctocolectomy and ileoanal pouch is the most common procedure for ulcerative colitis. This procedure typically requires more than one surgery, and there are several ways to do it. First, your surgeon does a proctocolectomy a procedure that removes your colon and rectum. Then the surgeon forms an ileoanal pouch to create a new rectum. While your body and newly made pouch is healing, your surgeon may perform a temporary ileostomy at the same time. This creates an opening in your lower belly. Your small intestines attach to the stoma, which looks like a small piece of pink skin on your belly.
After you heal, waste from your small intestines comes out through the stoma and into an attached bag called an ostomy bag. The small bag lies flat on the outside of your body, below your beltline. Youll need to wear the bag at all times to collect waste. Youll have to change the bag frequently throughout the day.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Ulcerative Colitis
Recognizing the symptoms of ulcerative colitis is your first step toward knowing when your disease is in a flare and when to seek medical attention.
The symptoms of ulcerative colitis vary from person to person and about half of all ulcerative colitis patients experience mild symptoms. If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your healthcare provider.
Loose and urgent bowel movements
Persistent diarrhea accompanied by abdominal pain and blood in the stool
Will Ulcerative Colitis Affect Me Over Time
The effects of ulcerative colitis vary considerably from person to person, based on the nature and severity of their disease. In many cases, the condition does not have much impact on daily life, the ability to work or to enjoy an active social life but does take some getting used to. When it is at an active stage, symptoms such as diarrhoea and abdominal pain often require time away from work, college etc. and can make it difficult to cope going out or even being at home. However, treatment usually makes the symptoms better within days or weeks so normal quality of life can be restored quite quickly. Some severe cases of ulcerative colitis, however, can have a significant impact on peoples lives. This can be due to a weak response to treatment which makes symptom-free remission difficult to achieve and can involve frequent flare ups.
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Diarrhea And Rectal Bleeding
People with ulcerative colitis often experience watery diarrhea as well as frequent and sudden urges to have a bowel movement. For some people, the urge to have a bowel movement may occur so suddenly that it significantly disrupts their daily life. Some people need to have a bowel movement more than 10 times per day.
You may notice blood, pus, or mucus in your stools. You may also experience rectal bleeding if youre having a flare-up. Blood comes from ulcers along the surface of your rectum.
If you have uncontrollable diarrhea or notice blood in your stool, you should see a doctor. Diarrhea caused by ulcerative colitis can lead to medical emergencies like severe dehydration, a perforated colon, or .
Living With Uc: Travel
With a little extra planning, most people with ulcerative colitis can travel comfortably. Follow these steps:
- Use websites and cellphone apps to find restrooms in airports, train stations, or other large venues ahead of time.
- Carry extra underwear and wet wipes.
- Bring enough medication to last the entire trip, along with copies of your prescriptions.
- Tell your doctor about your plans to see if you need to take other precautions.
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