Remedies for Ulcerative Colitis Constipation
Constipation is a common complication of ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that causes painful inflammation along the gastrointestinal tract. When inflammation occurs in the rectum—a condition known as proctitis—muscle spasms prevent the body from being able to relax enough to pass stool. Even if stool is passed, the difficulty or hardness of the stool could be defined as constipation.
Generally, constipation is defined by passing less than three stools a week, whereas healthy bowel movements are generally defined as regular movements anywhere between at least three times a week and at most three times a day. Those who experience constipation also typically feel pain or discomfort along with the inability to pass stool. Straining during bowel movements is another classic presentation of constipation.
Constipation as a complication of ulcerative colitis can exacerbate already-present gas and stomach pain. In the long term, repeated complications can cause permanent damage to the gastrointestinal tract. Even with corticosteroids and immunosuppressant medications that treat the underlying condition, constipation can occur and require additional treatment.
Here are some helpful remedies for treating constipation as a complication of ulcerative colitis.
Drink more fluids
Dehydration could be the cause of hard and difficult stools, especially after a bout of diarrhea. In all cases, hydration is crucial in maintaining a healthy gastrointestinal tract, and those with ulcerative colitis should especially focus on keeping their fluid intake high. While hydration is linked to constipation relief, it will most likely not be the only or ultimate solution. It is simply good practice, and may provide other short and long-term benefits besides helping with constipation.
When increasing the amount of fluids, be sure to stay away from caffeine. Decaffeinated teas are the best option besides water, with sodas and coffee being among the worst options for those with ulcerative colitis. Caffeine is a diuretic, which causes the body to expel more water and salt in the urine than the body would naturally. This can lead to further dehydration and other complications in those with inflammatory bowel disease.
Boost your dietary fiber intake
Fiber is a difficult nutrient to manage in people with ulcerative colitis. Too much fiber can actually worsen the symptoms of the condition, but not enough can lead to constipation. If you are experiencing constipation, the answer may be in increasing your dietary fiber consumption within a specific range. You should aim to consume between 20 and 35 grams of dietary fiber per day, with some sources narrowing this window to 22 and 34 grams.
Diet is a huge part of managing an inflammatory bowel disease. The issue may be with certain foods themselves, regardless of the nutritional value attributed to them. Most people with ulcerative colitis are put on diets specific to their bodies and conditions, so traditional means of achieving a healthy diet may not work. For example, raw vegetables may not be good for people with inflammatory bowel disease to consume, and should be closely monitored.
Most fiber-rich foods come from the vegetable, fruit, and whole grain food groups. To begin searching for the optimal level of dietary fiber, it might help to keep a food journal. This will also be useful in the event that you eat something or encounter a food that aggravates your symptoms. If a certain fruit or vegetable irritates you, try cooking or preparing it different ways. Diet is a constant variable, and it will take some fine-tuning to get perfectly right.
Read on for more tips to relieve UC-related constipation.