Keep Up With Your Medicine
Don’t double up on doses of medication if you’re flaring. Although you really want relief, a change in your treatment can trigger flares or make them worse. Let your doctor know when you have a flare while you’re on your usual medication plan. Take medicines only as directed. The same goes for when you feel good and may be tempted to skip doses, too.
Medication Options For Ulcerative Colitis
Medication is the first line of treatment for ulcerative colitis. Your doctors recommendation for which medication will work best for you is based on the severity of your disease, your overall health, and other individual factors.
There are six major classes of medication used to treat ulcerative colitis.
Diet Tips During A Flare
A modified diet may help you manage and reduce your UC symptoms. Depending on the person, specific foods may trigger flare-ups or worsen symptoms. As a result, its important to identify and limit these foods.
Your doctor and a dietitian can work with you to find a diet that best manages your symptoms while providing the nutrition you need.
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What Is The Best Diet For Ulcerative Colitis
Theres no single diet that works best for ulcerative colitis. If the disease damages the lining of the colon, your body might not absorb enough nutrients from food. Your healthcare provider may recommend supplemental nutrition or vitamins. Its best to work with your provider and nutritionist to come up with a personalized diet plan.
What To Do During An Ulcerative Colitis Flare To Minimize Symptoms
Youll inevitably experience another UC flare-up at some point, despite your best prevention efforts. When this happens, there are a few ways youll need to tweak your normal routine to minimize the severity of your symptoms and get back into remission ASAP. Even some of your typically healthy habits like loading up on veggies may be a no-go. Here are a few natural remedies that may help:
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Ulcerative Colitis Still In Remission
Last but definitely not least, my digestion is pretty darn good! I dont experience any of the symptoms that my body used to show from Ulcerative Colitis. That means no bloody diarrhea, no cramping, no more fear of not being near a bathroom. During my journey, there were definitely times of stalled progress, plateaus, bumps, deep ditches even!
Probably one of the most worrisome changes was when I dropped almost 20 pounds, when I didnt need to lose any weight at all. Now, I am back to a healthy weight, and probably what my body composition was always meant to be.
Through it all, with the GAPS protocol and some additional support along the way, Ive returned to regular bowel movements in the gradual way the body is meant to recover. Food-wise, Im working my way off GAPS. This means that I have begun incorporating many non-GAPS foods into my food lifestyle. I started with fermented buckwheat , fermented quinoa, and then fermented millet. The funny thing is that my body doesnt really want much of these foods. I will never go back to the non-nourishing way that I used to eat, even though I thought I was eating right by following what they say is the healthy way to eat.
In summary, the huge improvements in my second year of my gut-healing journey were freedom from chronic knee pain, the return of my menstrual cycle and great digestion!
This is me, this is my body, and this is my health.
Keep A Food And Symptom Journal
A key part of preventing flare-ups is knowing your personal ulcerative colitis triggers, which can vary from person to person. Some people are triggered by gluten and dairy, while some people arentso its important to identify what specific foods trigger you, says Cohen. Keeping up a food and symptom journal can be really helpful.
Start jotting down what you eat and drink in a notebook so you can identify foods and beverages that may be causing flares to occur. If you start to see a pattern emerge, you can try eliminating that food/drink for a while to see if you get some relief. Parsley Health doctors and health coaches can guide you through the appropriate way to eliminate and reintroduce foods and help you identify triggers.
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Find Ways To Chill Out
All of the stress-busting suggestions above are extra important when youre in the midst of a flare-up. Cohen also recommends implementing deep breathing exercises before every meal, as this relaxes your body and mind allows you to digest more optimally. And, since youll be eating 4-6 smaller meals, this is a great way to get a dose of calm at multiple points in the day.
Do You Have Ulcerative Colitis
Sometimes, UC can be tricky to diagnose. A ggod place to start is by talking to your healthcare provider and telling them about your symptoms. To find out whether you have UC, you will probably need to get blood work and provide. Ultimately, youll need to have a colonoscopy, in which a camera is inserted into the colon so your provider can look directly at the colon and take biopsies.
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Warning Signs Of A Flare
Flares often are acute, meaning they come on suddenly. They can last from days to weeks. Between flare-ups, you may experience weeks, months, or years of remission.
Symptoms of a flare may be different depending on the severity and location of the inflammation in the colon and rectum. Nevertheless, common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain or cramps
Managing Ulcerative Colitis Flares: The Most Important Step
The key to managing an ulcerative colitis flare is to get a confirmed diagnosis and begin treatment as soon as possible. But doing so can be tricky, because people with the condition may attribute their symptoms to other GI problems, says Oriana Mazorra Damas, MD, an assistant professor of gastroenterology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Miami.
The goal for remission is to feel well enough that you forget that you have the condition for most of the day in other words, you experience few, if any, symptoms, Dr. Damas explains.
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Ulcerative Colitis Causes And Risk Factors
Ulcerative colitis happens when your immune system makes a mistake. Normally, it attacks invaders in your body, like the common cold. But when you have UC, your immune system thinks food, good gut bacteria, and the cells that line your colon are the intruders. White blood cells that usually protect you attack the lining of your colon instead. They cause the inflammation and ulcers.
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Doctors arent sure why people get the condition. Your genes may play a role the disease sometimes runs in families. Other things in the world around you may make a difference, too.
Things that can affect your risk of getting ulcerative colitis include:
- Age. Its most likely if youre between 15 and 30 years old or older than 60.
- Ethnicity. The risk is highest in people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.
- Family history. Your risk could be up to 30% higher if you have a close relative with the condition.
Food and stress dont cause it, but they can trigger a flare of symptoms.
Avoid Foods That Make Symptoms Worse
Diet does not cause ulcerative colitis flare-ups. You may, however, notice that some foods make your symptoms worse. If so, stop eating or drinking those foods. The most common foods that seem to exacerbate ulcerative colitis symptoms are dairy products, fatty foods, and spicy foods. High fiber foods also can worsen symptoms during a flare.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis symptoms often get worse over time. In the beginning, you may notice:
- Diarrhea or urgent bowel movements.
- Abdominal cramping.
- Liver disease.
- Loss of fluids and nutrients.
Symptoms are similar in pediatric ulcerative colitis and may also include delayed or poor growth. Some ulcerative colitis symptoms in children can mimic other conditions, so it is important to report all symptoms to your pediatrician.
Symptoms Of Ulcerative Colitis
The main symptoms of ulcerative colitis are:
- recurring diarrhoea, which may contain blood, mucus or pus
- needing to empty your bowels frequently
You may also experience fatigue , loss of appetite and weight loss.
The severity of the symptoms varies, depending on how much of the rectum and colon is inflamed and how severe the inflammation is. For some people, the condition has a significant impact on their everyday lives.
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Ulcerative Colitis And Cancer Of The Colon
The chance of developing cancer of the large intestine is higher than average in people who have had ulcerative colitis for several years or more. It is more of a risk if you have frequent flare-ups affecting the whole of the large intestine. For example, about 1 in 10 people who have ulcerative colitis for 20 years which affects much of their large intestine will develop cancer.
Because of this risk, people with ulcerative colitis are usually advised to have their large intestine routinely checked after having had the condition for about 10 years. This involves a look into the large intestine by a flexible telescope every now and then and taking small samples of bowel for examination. It is usually combined with chromoscopy – this is the use of dye spray which shows up suspicious changes more easily. Depending on the findings of this test and on other factors, you will be put into a low, intermediate or high risk category. ‘Other factors’ include:
- The amount of intestine affected.
- Whether you have had complications such as polyps. These are small, non-cancerous growths on the inside lining of the colon or rectum.
- Whether you have a family history of cancer.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends the next colonoscopy/chromoscopy should depend on the degree of risk of developing colon or rectal cancer. After the next test, your risk will be calculated again.
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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Ulcerative Colitis Treatment Options
Treatment of ulcerative colitis focuses on one of two goals: inducing remission during an active flare-up or maintaining remission. These goals are largely accomplished through medications that will be tailored to the severity and extent of the illness. Severe disease or complications may require surgical removal of part or all of the colon.
Give Yourself Some Tlc
Stress doesn’t cause UC, but it makes symptoms and flares worse for some people. If it affects you, try meditation, breathing exercises, or a massage. You could also see a pro to try biofeedback, hypnotherapy, or a type of counseling called cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps you learn new ways to handle problems. Being active helps, too. Try yoga, tai chi, or other low-impact exercises like walking.
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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.
Your Uc Flare Management Plan
Your doctor may help you deal with a flare by changing your medications or offering new ones. Treatment of flares can include mesalamine products and usually a steroid, such as prednisone,” says Desi.
There are also some things you can do at home to temper a flare. These include:
During an ulcerative colitis flare, its recommended that you schedule regular visits to see your doctor, at least once every three months until the symptoms go away. After the flare has subsided, physicians recommend one or two checkups a year to manage the disease.
When an ulcerative colitis flare strikes, you have options for getting your life back on track. Its important to learn what you can about maintaining your health and work with your doctor to find the best ways to safely control UC. And remember to always let your doctor know when new or persistent symptoms arise.
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What Is Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis causes irritation and ulcers in the large intestine . It belongs to a group of conditions called inflammatory bowel disease . It often causes diarrhea with blood, cramping and urgency. Sometimes these symptoms can wake a person up at night to go to the bathroom as well.
The inflammation in ulcerative colitis usually starts in the rectum, which is close to the anus . The inflammation can spread and affect a portion of, or the entire colon. When the inflammation occurs in the rectum and lower part of the colon it is called ulcerative proctitis. If the entire colon is affected it is called pancolitis. If only the left side of the colon is affected it is called limited or distal colitis.
The severity of UC depends on the amount of inflammation and the location. Everyone is a little different. You could have severe inflammation in the rectum or very mild inflammation in the entire colon .
If you have ulcerative colitis, you may notice a pattern of flare-ups , when symptoms are worse. During times of remission, you might have little to no symptoms. The goal with therapy is to remain in remission as long as possible .
How Ulcerative Colitis Is Treated
Treatment for ulcerative colitis aims to relieve symptoms during a flare-up and prevent symptoms from returning .
In most people, this is achieved by taking medication such as:
Mild to moderate flare-ups can usually be treated at home. However, more severe flare-ups need to be treated in hospital to reduce the risk of serious complications, such as the colon becoming stretched and enlarged or developing large ulcers. Both of these can increase the risk of developing a hole in the bowel.
If medications aren’t effective at controlling your symptoms, or your quality of life is significantly affected by your condition, surgery to remove your colon may be an option.
During surgery, your small intestine will either be diverted out of an opening in your abdomen , or used to create an internal pouch that’s connected to your anus .
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Related Resources For Ulcerative Colitis
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This article is not medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes and is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your physician or dial 911.
What Should I Ask My Doctor
If you have ulcerative colitis, you may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- How much of my large intestine is affected?
- What risks or side effects can I expect from the medication?
- Should I change my diet?
- Will ulcerative colitis affect my ability to get pregnant?
- What can I do at home to manage my symptoms?
- What are my surgical options?
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Why Working With A Qualified Care Team Is So Important When It Comes To Managing Ulcerative Colitis
People being treated for UC typically arent getting dietary or lifestyle advice, which is a huge disservice, says Cohen. But managing ulcerative colitis and preventing flare-ups can be done! You just might need a little help from the experts.
Because UC isnt one-size-fits-all and triggers are highly individual, enlisting the help of a care team like the clinicians at Parsley Health is wise. Providers can provide individualized supplement protocols based on lab testing, customized eating plans for periods of remission and flares, and communicate with your current GI doctor if necessary to streamline care.