Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel condition that leads to inflammation and ulcer formation within the digestive tract. The condition affects the innermost lining of your large intestine, at the colon and rectum. In many individuals, the condition and its symptoms seem to come and go in waves, and people can have worsening symptoms during a UC flareup. In today’s blog, we share some tips for managing ulcerative colitis flare ups and how you can work to make flare ups less frequent.
Ulcerative Colitis Causes
In order to understand how to best manage your ulcerative colitis condition, it’s important that you determine the root cause of your condition. For some people, UC can be triggered by certain dietary choices, while others are driven by an underlying immune deficiency issue. Family genetics can also make you more likely to suffer from the condition, so if you are experiencing bowel distress a couple times a month, you should set up a consultation with a gastrointestinal specialist like Dr. Bhatti.
Dr. Bhatti will talk with you about your symptoms, conduct a physical exam and run some tests to get to the heart of the issue. From there, he can help you develop an individualized treatment plan to help reduce flare ups or manage them when they set in. While those tips will be based on your specific situation, some UC home management tips that are oftentimes recommended include:
- Stress Management – Stress can actually cause physical issues, and it can oftentimes intensify the symptoms of a UC flare up. Find some ways to manage the everyday stress in your life. Whether that involves deep breathing techniques, meditation or controlled exercise, work to limit stress and find appropriate outlets to manage it so that stress doesn’t make a ulcerative colitis flareup worse.
- Eat Smaller Meals – It can be easier for your digestive system to keep things regulated if it’s not trying to digest very large meals. You don’t need to eat three square meals a day. You can eat 5-6 smaller meals and snacks throughout the day to help fuel your body and make it easier on your digestive system, which can limit UC flare ups.
- Mind Your Fluid Intake – Like a number of gastrointestinal conditions, the fluids you put in your body can contribute to or help to regulate these issues. GERD, acid reflux and ulcerative colitis may be more likely to worsen if you frequently consume carbonated or caffeinated drinks and alcohol, whereas water can keep your body hydrated and working as it should. Swap out sugary or caffeinated beverages for water, and digestive discomfort may be easier to keep under control.
- Food Journal – Different foods affect people in different ways, so it’s imperative that you start learning more about how your body handles certain foods. Start a food journal and write down what you eat each day and how your digestive system responds. Start to figure out which food groups help to regulate your digestive system and which foods tend to cause problems. Dairy products, high-fiber foods, gluten or carbohydrate-dense options can all kick your UC into overdrive, so take it upon yourself to figure out which foods your body does well handling and which ones can trigger symptoms.
- Medication Management – Finally, if you have ulcerative colitis, there’s a decent chance that you are taking medications to help address the issue. Failing to take your medications as directed, or mixing your prescription with other medications can increase your risk of a flare up. It’s also possible that your medication is no longer as effective as it used to be, so if your medication doesn’t seem to be as effective as it was in the past, have a conversation with your gastrointestinal specialist. Stick to a regular medication schedule and talk to your doctor before taking any other medications, as it could interfere with the effectiveness of your prescription.
Managing ulcerative colitis can be difficult, but you can make life a little easier by following the above tips and connecting with a specialist like Dr. Bhatti who can help you get the individualized care you need. For more information about managing and treating ulcerative colitis, or for assistance managing a different gastrointestinal condition, reach out to Dr. Bhatti and the team at Bhatti GI Consultants today at (952) 368-3800.