- Ulcerative colitis remission: What to know
- 8 Key Questions About Ulcerative Colitis, Answered
- 1. Is Ulcerative Colitis the Same as Crohn’s Disease?
- 2. What Causes Colitis?
- 3. What Factors Can Increase My Risk of Getting Colitis?
- 4. How Is Colitis Diagnosed?
- 5. How Is Colitis Treated?
- 6. Will My Colitis Go Away?
- 7. Can Colitis Lead to Other Health Issues?
- 8. Should I Be on a Special Diet for Colitis?
- Ulcerative Proctitis
- Ulcerative Proctitis Overview
- Symptoms of Ulcerative Proctitis
- Diagnosing Ulcerative Proctitis
- Management of Ulcerative Proctitis
- Ulcerative Proctitis Outlook
- Risks of Untreated Ulcerative Colitis
- Unpredictable flare-ups
- Severe dehydration and vitamin deficiencies
- Persistent nausea
- Other chronic conditions
- The takeaway
Ulcerative colitis remission: What to know
People experiencing remission should continue taking medications as the doctor recommends.
Even if a person has no symptoms, the medications can prevent flare-ups.
The following lifestyle and dietary changes can also help to maintain remission:
Many people with UC report that stress causes their symptoms to flare up.
A 2013 study investigated whether stress and depression increase the risk of UC relapse among people in remission.
The researchers assessed participants’ levels of stress and depression at 3-month intervals for up to 1 year. Of the 75 participants, 28 experienced a recurrence of symptoms during this time.
The researchers found that short-term stress may increase the risk of relapse, but depression did not have the same effect.
A doctor may be able to recommend a form of talking therapy or mindfulness meditation to help relieve stress.
Share on PinterestRegular exercise can help prevent complications of UC.
Exercise may help reduce the risk of the following physical and mental health conditions associated with IBD:
- colon cancer
- loss of bone density
- low mood
A 2015 study investigated the association between exercise and disease flare-ups among people with IBD in remission.
Of the 1,308 participants, 549 had UC or indeterminate colitis (IC), which is when it is unclear whether a person has Crohn’s disease or UC.
Participants with UC or IC who had higher exercise levels at the start of the study were less likely to develop active disease 6 months later.
However, the benefit of exercise was not statistically significant. Confirming whether exercise can help to maintain colitis remission will require more research.
Avoiding certain pain relievers
According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (CCF), the following over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers can cause intestinal ulcers:
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, or NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen
- COX-2 inhibitors, including the brands Celebrex and Vioxx
The CCF recommend that people avoid taking these drugs unless they are necessary to treat a serious health issue, such as heart disease.
Identifying and avoiding trigger foods
According to the CFF, some people with UC experience an increase in cramping, bloating, and diarrhea after eating certain foods.
Although these trigger foods vary from person to person, some common examples include:
- fatty foods
- spicy foods
- sugary foods
- sugar substitutes
- caffeinated drinks
- foods containing lactose
- insoluble fibers, which raw green vegetables, grains, and most fruits contain
If UC symptoms seem to get worse after eating certain foods, consider keeping a food diary and recording symptoms every day to check for a pattern.
If a person suspects that a type of food is making their UC symptoms worse, they can also try eliminating it from their diet and seeing if symptoms improve.
Share on PinterestSome supplements may help maintain remission..
The following supplements may help maintain UC remission:
Vitamin D may reduce inflammation in the colon. Some researchers estimate that 60–70 percent of people with IBD have insufficient vitamin D levels.
Participants with low vitamin D also needed more medications, emergency department visits, hospital admissions, and surgeries.
The authors also found that participants accessed health services less often after receiving vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D supplements are available for purchase online.
Research from 2018 suggests that an imbalance in intestinal bacteria may cause the inflammation that occurs in people with UC.
In a different analysis from 2019, researchers found that people who took probiotics and an aminosalicylate had higher remission rates than those who only took an aminosalicylate.
Probiotics may help reduce UC symptoms by:
- preventing the growth of harmful gut bacteria
- regulating the immune system
- reducing inflammation in the colon
- improving the function of the intestinal barrier, which prevents toxins and harmful bacteria from entering the bloodstream
Probiotics are available for purchase online.
Some plants in the ginger family produce curcumin, a chemical.
In 2012, researchers investigated whether curcumin could help maintain UC remission.
Compared to the placebo group, fewer people in the group that took curcumin relapsed after 6 months. However, the results were not statistically significant, and confirming the benefits of curcumin will require more research.
Curcumin supplements are available for purchase online.
8 Key Questions About Ulcerative Colitis, Answered
A diagnosis of ulcerative colitis can be scary and overwhelming, but you don’t have to live in fear. A little knowledge can go a long way toward a rich, full life with the disease.
The first step is knowing what the diagnosis actually means.
Simply put, ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and open sores in the lining of the colon, or large intestine. The inflammation causes the colon to empty frequently, in turn causing diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramps and pain. The open sores (also called ulcers) and the fact that they affect the colon, give ulcerative colitis its name.
1. Is Ulcerative Colitis the Same as Crohn’s Disease?
No. Ulcerative colitis is not the same as Crohn’s disease, which is another type of IBD. Unlike Crohn’s disease, which can affect any area of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, ulcerative colitis affects only the colon.
The inflammation in ulcerative colitis also differs from that in Crohn’s disease, in that it starts in the rectum and extends up the colon in a continuous manner. In Crohn’s disease, there may be areas of healthy intestine between diseased portions.
Finally, ulcerative colitis affects only the innermost lining of the colon, whereas Crohn’s disease can affect the entire thickness of the bowel wall.
2. What Causes Colitis?
While the exact cause of ulcerative colitis is still unknown, researchers suspect that the inflammation may be the result of several factors working together. These include a person’s genes, her immune system, and environmental factors, such as diet, drugs, and stress.
“There certainly may be a hereditary aspect to the illness, as the disease seems to cluster in people who have a family history of ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, or other autoimmune disorders,” says Donald Tsynman, MD, a gastroenterologist at Manhattan Gastroenterology in New York City. “That being said, the majority of people with ulcerative colitis actually do not have a family history. It may be that some people are genetically predisposed to have the illness at some point in life.”
3. What Factors Can Increase My Risk of Getting Colitis?
There are certain factors that make it more likely a person will develop Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis. These include:
- Age While colitis can begin at any age, it usually starts when people are 15 to 30 years old or 50 to 70 years old.
- Family history of IBD or other autoimmune disease According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, up to 20 percent of people with colitis have a close relative with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. A family history of other autoimmune diseases can increase the risk as well.
- Ethnic background There is a higher incidence of ulcerative colitis in white than in nonwhite people, and a higher incidence among Jewish than in non-Jewish people.
- Where you live Ulcerative colitis occurs mostly in developed countries, and is found more often in urban areas than rural ones, and in northern regions rather than southern regions of the United States.
The symptoms of ulcerative colitis, and the possible complications that come with them, can vary depending on how badly the rectum and colon are inflamed. Colitis symptoms can come on gradually or suddenly and vary in severity.
4. How Is Colitis Diagnosed?
Diagnosing ulcerative colitis starts with a medical and family history and a physical exam. Doctors often perform a number of tests including blood tests and a stool sample analysis to rule out other conditions.
The most accurate methods of diagnosing ulcerative colitis include colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy. In these exams, a thin tube equipped with a light and a camera (an endoscope) is inserted into the rectum and the intestine to look for signs of inflammation, bleeding, or ulcers, and to possibly take a biopsy (a tissue sample) that can be studied under a microscope.
5. How Is Colitis Treated?
Treatment of colitis depends on the severity and frequency of symptoms, as well as on how much of the colon is inflamed. Most people with ulcerative colitis have mild to moderate symptoms, and those with very mild symptoms may not require much treatment. About 10 percent of people with the disease will have more severe symptoms requiring more complex treatment according to the National Institutes of Health. Physicians and patients work together to decide on the best course of action.
In general, a treatment plan may include:
Medications, which reduce inflammation and treat the symptoms of ulcerative colitis to prevent them from coming back. The four main categories of medication are aminosalicylates, corticosteroids, immunomodulators, and biologic therapies.
Surgery may be recommended at some point in the course of the disease. According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, about 23 percent to 45 percent of people with ulcerative colitis will eventually require surgery. Some opt for surgery after drug therapy fails to control severe and ongoing symptoms. Surgery may also be necessary if a person suffers serious complications from ulcerative colitis.
“For some patients, surgery is the only option and for others, though not the only option, it is the option with the best long-term result,” says Dr. Tsynman. “As such, this is a question that has to be examined on an individual basis, taking into account each patient’s specific history.”
6. Will My Colitis Go Away?
There’s no cure for ulcerative colitis, but with the right treatment, symptoms can be kept under control.
Aggressive treatment in the early stages of the disease can help you maintain remission and ensure that your symptoms don’t get worse. Sticking to your treatment plan and communicating with your doctor about your symptoms and any treatment side effects are key to living comfortably with the disease.
7. Can Colitis Lead to Other Health Issues?
Research has shown that ulcerative colitis may make it more likely that a person will develop arthritis, eye inflammation, liver diseases, and osteoporosis. Scientists don’t know how or why colitis influences these other health problems, but they think inflammation triggered by the immune system may play a role. In some cases, the conditions that occur outside of the large intestine go away when the colitis is treated.
About 5 percent of people who have ulcerative colitis develop colon cancer, which is a higher rate than for people without the disease. The risk of colon cancer increases in each decade after ulcerative colitis is diagnosed. Doctors use colonoscopy to screen people with ulcerative colitis for colon cancer.
8. Should I Be on a Special Diet for Colitis?
There’s no evidence that either certain foods or stress cause colitis. But during flare-ups, both stress and particular foods may make symptoms worse for some people.
“While food has never been shown to cause ulcerative colitis, the same foods that may give certain individuals problematic symptoms of digestion who don’t have ulcerative colitis may cause similar symptoms in patients with the disease,” Tsynman explains. “These include, but are not limited to, alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, dairy products (for patients who are lactose-intolerant), dried fruit, foods high in fiber, products with sorbitol (a sugar alcohol), and spicy foods.”
Most doctors recommend that their patients eliminate only foods they’re convinced make their colitis symptoms worse based on past experience. If you do eliminate a specific food or food group, it’s helpful to meet with a registered dietitian to ensure you are still getting the nutrients you need.
Ultimately, says Tsynman, “a patient with well-controlled ulcerative colitis can lead an exceedingly normal life with little to no disruption. This requires that the patient be diligent about treatment and always discussing symptoms or any acute changes with the appropriate physician. In this manner, the disease can be monitored appropriately and have little if any impact on the individual’s life.”
Additional reporting by Ajai Raj
The symptoms of ulcerative colitis can cause embarrassment and pain, but pharmacists’ expert advice can help ease the discomfort.
What is Ulcerative colitis?
Ulcerative colitis is also known as inflammatory bowel disease because it mainly affects the large intestine, colon, and sometimes the rectum. In this chronic condition, the colon and rectum become inflamed and develop ulcers or sores. As a result, you may experience bleeding and diarrhea, which are characteristic of ulcerative colitis.
No one knows what causes ulcerative colitis. The immune system is involved, but it is not clear exactly how. Ulcerative colitis affects men and women equally. You can have ulcerative colitis at any age, but it often occurs between the ages of 15 and 30 years, or later in life, from the ages of 50 to 70 years.
It is more common in Whites and those of Jewish descent. It is important to receive treatment for ulcerative colitis. If left untreated, it can increase the risk of more serious complications in the long run.
Some complications of ulcerative colitis are:
• Colon cancer
• Inflammation in other parts of the body, such as the skin, eyes, and joints
• Liver disease
• Osteoporosis, or weakened bones
• Toxic megacolon
How Do I Know If I Have Ulcerative Colitis?
Your doctor will first check for the usual symptoms of ulcerative colitis, mainly bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. Following this, several tests can be performed to confirm that it is ulcerative colitis. These include:
• Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy (cameras are used to view inside the intestine, and biopsies can be performed)
• X-rays (barium enema, computerized tomography scan) • Stool samples to check for bacteria (sign of infection) and white blood cells (sign of inflammation)
• Blood tests for anemia
• Sedimentation rate, an indicator of inflammation
The symptoms of ulcerative colitis can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, and they can have a negative impact on your social life. Certain foods and spices can trigger the symptoms, causing bouts of diarrhea in public places.
The symptoms will vary depending on how serious your condition is, but they are manageable. Symptoms will occur as flare-ups (worsening of inflammation) that can range from mild, with symptoms coming on gradually, to severe, in which a person can become very ill. Some people may have periods of remission in which symptoms go away for months and even years, but in most, the symptoms will eventually return.
You may also experience joint pain, mouth sores, nausea and vomiting, skin lumps or ulcers, or anemia.
The recurrence of symptoms can be reduced by making some dietary and lifestyle changes. Avoiding certain foods that can worsen diarrhea and gas symptoms is a good start. Try the process of elimination to find out which specific foods aggravate your symptoms. The key is to eat a well-balanced diet to prevent the malnourishment that can result from your intestines not being able to absorb nutrients as well. Eliminating dairy products will only help people who are lactose intolerant.
To help control symptoms:
•Try eating small meals more frequently
• Experiment with fiber—getting more fiber can sometimes help eliminate diarrhea, but may also aggravate your symptoms
• Do not choose “gassy” foods, such as beans, cabbage, and broccoli
• Avoid greasy or fried foods—these can cause more gas and diarrhea because your body might not be able to completely absorb the fat
• Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration
• Avoid or limit alcohol and caffeine consumption
• Consider taking multivitamins to replace lost vitamins and minerals
When flare-ups occur, medical treatment is necessary to control the inflammation that is triggering your symptoms. In more severe cases, when there is massive bleeding, rupture of the colon, risk of cancer, or your condition is not responding to medical therapy, you might need surgery. About 30% of people with ulcerative colitis will require surgery. This involves removing the colon and rectum, which cures the ulcerative colitis and eliminates the threat of cancer.
There are 4 types of drugs that are used to treat the inflammation from ulcerative colitis: aminosalicylates, corticosteroids (often referred to as “steroids”), immunomodulators, and biologics.
Aminosalicylates are aspirin-like medications that are usually tried first in cases of mild to moderate ulcerative colitis. They are moderately effective at treating active inflammation, and better at maintaining remission. They can reduce the long-term risk of colorectal cancer.
Sulfasalazine is a less expensive aminosalicylate, but not as well tolerated. Nausea, headache, and rash are some of the side effects seen with this medication. Sulfasalazine should be avoided when there is an allergy to sulfur. Enemas and suppositories may be used in combination with oral tablets to better treat the symptoms.
Corticosteroids are highly effective medications that work quickly to relieve moderate to severe symptoms of inflammation during acute flare-ups. They have predictable side effects when used long term, such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and diabetes, so they should only be used for a short amount of time. They are used when aminosalicylates don’t work, or in combination with other treatments. The latest corticosteroid, Entocort HC, offers a safer alternative by causing fewer side effects.
Immunomodulators and biologic drugs are used as a last resort when other therapies do not work. They work by suppressing the body’s immune system, so there is a potential for serious complications, including an increased risk for infection. Regular monitoring for side effects is required with these medications. They act slowly, and can take from 3 to 6 months to be effective, so they are usually combined with corticosteroids to speed up the response.
Over-the-counter alternatives can help treat some of the milder symptoms. For diarrhea, Immodium or Metamucil can help, and acetaminophen can alleviate pain. Ibuprofen and naproxen can actually worsen the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, so these should not be taken for pain.
You might receive antibiotics if you have a fever and your doctor suspects an infection. Iron supplements can be used to prevent anemia. Some herbal supplements that might help include fish oils, probiotics, and Boswellia. Aloe vera has not been proved to be effective for ulcerative colitis. PT
Dr. Pelegrin is a pharmacist for Publix Pharmacy and Dr. Rouzeau is a pharmacist who has worked in retail and health systems pharmacy.
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Ulcerative proctitis is a mild form of ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) consisting of fine ulcerations in the inner mucosal lining of the large intestine that do not penetrate the bowel muscle wall. In this form of colitis, the inflammation begins at the rectum, and spreads no more than about 20 cm into the colon. About 25-30% of people diagnosed with ulcerative colitis actually have this form of the disease.
The cause of ulcerative proctitis is undetermined, but there is considerable research evidence to suggest that interactions between environmental factors, intestinal flora, immune dysregulation, and genetic predisposition are responsible. It is unclear why the inflammation is limited to the rectum. There is a slightly increased risk for those who have a family member with the condition.
Although there is a range of treatments to help ease symptoms and induce remission, there is no cure. A diagnosis of ulcerative proctitis can occur at any point throughout life, with a high occurrence in young children and then again around 40-50 years of age. Progression of this disease to ulcerative colitis, extending farther up the bowel to involve the sigmoid colon, occurs in about 30-50% of patients with ulcerative proctitis.
Symptoms of Ulcerative Proctitis
The presenting symptoms of ulcerative proctitis all relate to the rectum. Blood in the stool occurs in almost all patients. Diarrhea is a common symptom although constipation can also develop, as the body struggles to maintain normal bowel function.
Inflammation of the rectum may cause a sense of urgency to have a bowel movement, discomfort after having a bowel movement, and a sensation of incomplete emptying of the bowels. Systemic symptoms such as fever, tiredness, nausea, and weight loss are rare.
Ulcerative proctitis has very few complications but, with increased irritation to the anal and rectal area, hemorrhoids may occur. Only rarely do other complications occur, such as abscesses and extra-intestinal manifestations. Patients with ulcerative proctitis are not at any greater risk for developing colorectal cancer than those without the disease.
Diagnosing Ulcerative Proctitis
Typically, the physician makes a diagnosis of ulcerative proctitis after taking the patient’s history, doing a general examination, and performing a standard sigmoidoscopy. A sigmoidoscope is an instrument with a tiny light and camera, inserted via the anus, which allows the physician to view the bowel lining. Small biopsies taken during the sigmoidoscopy may help rule out other possible causes of rectal inflammation. Stool cultures may also aid in the diagnosis. X-rays are not generally required, although at times they may be necessary to assess the small intestine or other parts of the colon.
Management of Ulcerative Proctitis
The treatment of ulcerative proctitis is multi-faceted; it includes managing the symptoms along with following therapies targeted to reduce the underlying inflammation.
Dietary and Lifestyle Modifications
As most nutrients are absorbed higher up in the digestive tract, persons with ulcerative proctitis generally do not have nutrient deficiencies; however, other factors may influence the patient’s nutritional state. Disease symptoms may cause food avoidance, leading to food choices that might not provide a balanced diet. If bleeding is excessive, then modifications to the diet will be necessary to compensate for this.
Better overall nutrition provides the body with the means to heal itself. It is important to follow Canada’s Food Guide, but some foods may irritate the rectum and increase symptoms, even though they do not affect the disease course. The customized recommendations of a registered dietitian can address the patient’s sensitive digestive tract.
Symptomatic Medication Therapy
The symptoms are the most distressing components of ulcerative proctitis; therefore, direct treatment of bloody diarrhea and pain will improve quality of life for the patient. Dietary adjustment may be beneficial and anti-diarrheal medications have a major role to play. For painful symptoms not controlled by other drugs, analgesics can be helpful, with acetaminophen (Tylenol®) being the preferred choice.
There are two types of anti-diarrheal medications directed at preventing cramps and controlling defecation.
One group alters the muscle activity of the intestine, slowing down content transit. These include: nonnarcotic loperamide (Imodium®); narcotic agents diphenoxylate (Lomotil®), codeine, opium tincture and paregoric (camphor/opium); and anti-spasmodic agents hyoscyamine sulfate (Levsin®), dicyclomine (Bentylol®), propantheline (Pro-Banthine®), and hyoscine butylbromide (Buscopan®).
The other group adjusts stool looseness and frequency by soaking up (binding to) water, regulating stool consistency so it is of a form and consistency that is easy to pass. These work in different ways; some, such as Metamucil® or Prodiem®, come from plant fibres, whereas cholestyramine resin (Questran®) is a bile salt binder. Interestingly, plant fibres are also useful for constipation, due to their stool regulating effects.
Individuals with ulcerative proctitis may be anemic from chronic blood loss. Adding dietary supplements could help improve this condition, with heme iron polypeptide (Proferrin®) being the preferred choice, due to its quick-acting and low side-effect profiles.
Anti-inflammatory Medication Therapy
Since the inflammation of ulcerative proctitis is limited to a small area of the lower colon, and is relatively accessible, treatment is most successful when given rectally. Your physician may prescribe treatment for you in the typical manners described below, or use an approach designed specifically for your situation.
5-Aminosalicyclic Acid (5-ASA): These medications, taken orally, include mesalamine (Asacol®, Mesasal®, Mezavant®, Pentasa®, Salofalk®) and olsalazine sodium (Dipentum®). They are safe and well tolerated for long-term use. However, quicker results can occur when medication is used in a topical form, taken rectally. Salofalk® is available in 500 mg and 1 g suppositories. Salofalk® 1 g and Pentasa® 1 g suppositories are once-a-day therapies. In a more difficult case, you may receive 5-ASA enema therapy (Salofalk® 4 g & 2 g/60 mL and Pentasa® 1 g, 2 g, or 4 g/100 mL) for a short course, followed by suppositories, as the inflammation improves. Some patients may benefit from a combination of orally and rectally administered 5-ASA therapies in cases that do not respond to rectal therapy alone.
5-ASA helps to settle acute inflammation and, when taken on a long-term basis (maintenance), it tends to keep the inflammation inactive. It is important to keep up your medicine regimen even if your symptoms disappear and you feel well again. Maintenance therapy can be at the full initial dosage or at a reduced dosage and interval, depending on the disease response. Typically, a patient starts on one type of preparation and if there is inadequate response, then switches to another type. On some occasions, it may be necessary (and some patients prefer) to use an oral form of 5-ASA to keep the disease in remission.
Corticosteroids: Patients can also administer these rectally. They come in liquid preparation, thick foam, or suppository, including budesonide (Entocort®), hydrocortisone (Cortenema®, Cortifoam™, Proctofoam®), and bethamethsone, (Betnesol®). However, if the patient has significant diarrhea, then the rectal medications may be difficult to hold. Cortifoam® is a foam preparation of a smaller volume so the patient may retain the treatment in the rectum longer, thereby increasing the amount of time it has to work.
Patients use rectal medications nightly at first and, as the disease improves, treatments become less frequent. Sometimes your doctor will stop treatment and start it again if there is a flare up, and sometimes maintenance therapy two to three times a week may be required long-term.
Although ulcerative proctitis can sometimes be very resistant to therapy, it is rare to have surgery to treat this condition.
Ulcerative Proctitis Outlook
With an appropriate treatment regimen, most ulcerative proctitis patients manage their disease successfully. Further research is essential to uncover the cause, potential treatments, and possible prevention strategies for many digestive diseases and disorders. Historically, gastrointestinal research in Canada has been severely under-funded. Ongoing public support will help further scientific advances.
Image Credit: © bigstockphoto.com/Pavlo Kolotenko
Risks of Untreated Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation and ulcers to develop in the colon and rectum.
Currently, there is no cure for the disease other than surgical removal of the colon. But certain treatments and lifestyle changes can help ease symptoms. When receiving a diagnosis of UC, one of the hardest things to learn is that long-term medications and lifestyle changes might be necessary in order to enter UC remission. You may even try to avoid treatment for UC altogether, hoping symptoms will go away on their own.
If you’re struggling to decide whether or not to treat (or continue to treat) UC, it’s important for you to know the risks involved in leaving UC untreated.
Flare-ups can be very painful and often lead to bleeding, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.
You may feel disappointed whenever you experience a flare-up, and while it’s easy to self-blame (e.g., that taco I ate, those drinks I had, that third coffee), it’s important to know that UC is unpredictable and flare-ups can come at any time. You might be doing everything right with your diet and lifestyle, and your UC can still cause you problems.
One way to manage UC flare-ups is to get medical treatment and be consistent about it. There are a variety of different drug therapies to manage flares, including anti-inflammatories, steroids, biologics, and immunosuppressants. Check with your doctor when trying to choose the right drug therapy for you.
Severe dehydration and vitamin deficiencies
People with UC are susceptible to dehydration and vitamin deficiencies, especially when not treating UC. The reason for this is because diarrhea can lead to significant water and nutrient loss in the body.
You may even feel like you can’t take in enough water or nutrients to stay hydrated and healthy. Some complications from UC-related dehydration and vitamin deficiencies are:
- general fatigue
- body aches
- urinary and kidney issues
Your doctor is there to help you develop strategies to avoid dehydration and vitamin deficiencies during a UC flare-up. To prevent this, you can try drinking a lot of water, avoiding caffeinated or carbonated drinks, and staying away from any prune or veggie juices. But sometimes these methods alone aren’t enough. Your doctor can recommend specific multivitamins that will help you stay hydrated and also boost your immune system.
A common symptom of UC is nausea. Not only is this uncomfortable, but it can often lead to other UC complications such as loss of appetite and weight loss. This domino effect can trigger a host of issues that can result in relapses and flare-ups.
Your doctor can help you develop an anti-nausea plan that involves a nutrient-rich, low-fiber diet. This plan will ensure you’re eating enough and keep nausea at bay. One strategy is to eat small, fist-size meals that are easily digestible. Pureed foods may also help you.
Some key foods and drinks to stay away from when you are feeling nauseous include:
- nuts and seeds
- raw veggies
- fried food
- spicy food
Other chronic conditions
If UC is left untreated, you may be at risk of developing other conditions. Some of these potential conditions include:
- Arthritis or general joint pain. In the case of UC-related arthritis, joint pain tends to be limited to a few joints. With the proper diagnosis, a treatment plan that is complementary to your UC treatment can help immensely.
- Liver damage. While rare, liver damage can become an issue if the liver becomes too inflamed or damaged. In most cases, the damage is reversible through treatment.
- Osteoporosis. Untreated UC can cause severe vitamin D deficiencies. As a result, this can lead to osteoporosis. The risk is especially high for those with UC who are older. Vitamin supplements and diet changes can often greatly reduce this risk.
- Colon cancer. People with UC are at a higher risk for this type of cancer. Studies have suggested a link between the amount of time someone has been diagnosed with UC and their likelihood of developing colon cancer. However, with frequent monitoring and testing, the risk for UC-related colon cancer decreases significantly.
Most treatment plans for UC actively consider the severity of your particular case. If you’re avoiding getting diagnosed or treating UC because you’re afraid or think your symptoms are “not that bad,” find a doctor you trust and check in with them. There are many treatment options available, so there really is little reason to avoid getting the help you deserve.