Ulcerative colitis is one of those medical conditions a person must learn to live with for the rest of their life. It has no cure, and ignoring the symptoms can be potentially deadly. After the initial bout with ulcerative colitis, and with proper treatment, the individual is said to be in remission and they exhibit no further symptoms. During flare-ups, the patient can have abdominal cramps and diarrhea which are painful, unpleasant, and downright disruptive to their life.
This should not be mistaken for being cured, in fact, the condition may be merely lurking below the surface, waiting to rise up in the form of a flare-up. What’s more, symptoms of ulcerative colitis resulting from a flare-up are often more severe than those caused by the initial attack.
Maintaining and adopting certain lifestyle measures will help you prevent UC flare-ups.
Several categories of medication are effective in reducing the effects of ulcerative colitis flare-ups. The prescription from the doctor will depend on the severity of your condition. The treatment has to be customized to your condition since no two people are the same.
A few changes in your lifestyle can bring in the intended relief, reducing discomfort and pain.
Adopt a UC-Favorable Diet and Lifestyle
Everything you eat will have to pass through your colon, and you have to be very careful about what it is. You should avoid foods that have the potential to cause irritation to the colon such as:
- Spicy foods
- Foods with sulfur
- Carbonated drinks
The inflammation of ulcerative colitis can disrupt the ideal bacteria balance, but taking probiotic supplements may help.
Strangely, fiber-rich foods may be unfavorable for someone with ulcerative colitis. That is not to say you should avoid fiber, but merely reduce your intake of it down to the minimum. You should also avoid having big meals which strain your colon and instead have small meals all through the day.
Turmeric contains curcumin, an anti-inflammatory ingredient which helps prevent or lessen the common ulcerative colitis symptoms of stomach pain and gas. A little turmeric in hot water taken daily can ease pain and discomfort. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and will help in reducing the pain and symptoms. The gel from the spikes of an Aloe-Vera plant is another potential alternative therapy for ulcerative colitis.
Stress doesn't actually cause ulcerative colitis, but research shows that it can increase symptoms like abdominal pain in people with inflammatory bowel diseases. The flare-ups can happen frequently if one is under stress due to various reasons. Among the most common causes of ulcerative colitis, flare-ups are stressful. It has nothing to do with your colon directly, but stress can have ripple effects that can cause ulcerative colitis symptoms to flare up. A person in remission from UC has to keep their stress levels in check to avoid such deadly and uncomfortable flare-ups. Though stress is often unavoidable, you should still try to adopt certain techniques that help to relieve stress such as:
Physical activities cause the brain to release endorphins which are referred to as ‘feel-good hormones’. Physical exercise has been shown by research to relieve stress and boost a person’s mood, both of which are recommended. A simple exercise such as 15 to 20 minutes of walking outside can be helpful. Once this is taken up as a daily routine, the symptoms and flare ups of any kind of disease can be controlled.
Various techniques may be practices that help the individual feel more relaxed, and you just have to find one that’s right for you. Meditation, yoga, and other mindfulness techniques can help relieve stress. Music therapy is the recent finding to bring in relief to any kind of disease. The habit of listening to good soothing music should be cultivated. This will relax the mind and also the muscles. Stressing our muscles can cause flare ups too!
Working on a hobby can relieve stress greatly. Taking a walk in the park, playing with children can also release the “feel good hormones” and thus relieve stress and anxiety.
Building Strong Relationships
Communication with a trusted friend or partner can be great for stress relief, so don’t let your condition keep you away from good company. Family members should be prepared to lend that extra moral support to patients of ulcerative colitis in their diet plan and reminding them to take their meals and medication at regular intervals. They should also be prepared to accompany them for the frequent visits to the doctor for maintaining the health.
It is crucial to be faithful to the medication prescribed by your doctor for the condition. Some patients abandon their medication after the symptoms abate, but this can be a recipe for a major flare-up. Also, report to your doctor regularly about any side-effects, and they can prescribe alternative medication if the ones you’re taking aren’t favorable. Medications advised by the doctor and regular checks ups to check for any occurrence of cancerous bodies in the colon needs to be adhered to. The doctor may prescribe colonoscopy procedures once every 2 to 3 years to monitor.
Ulcerative colitis does not affect a woman’s ability to become pregnant, except if there was a surgery performed. Once the woman is pregnant, they should keep taking their medication to avoid a flare-up which could lead to a miscarriage or premature birth. Other than that, any woman can be confident they shall deliver a healthy baby despite having UC.
Focus on Nutrition
Because of frequent bouts of diarrhea and fatigue, people with Ulcerative colitis symptoms often have little or no appetite. They fear to eat a little bit more because they are scared of the consequences. But your body needs good nutrition to start feeling better and increase immunity. Also, diarrhea can cause dehydration and loss of vitamins and minerals. It is hence very important to make your meals as nutritious as possible and drink plenty of water to be hydrated all the time.