Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory disease condition that causes diarrhea and ulcers in the lining of the colon and rectum. It can occur at any age and has a tendency to run in families. Pain in the abdomen and blood stained diarrhea are the most common symptoms. Other symptoms include fever, anemia, tiredness, loss of appetite, rectal bleeding, sores on skin, and pain in the joints. The recommended treatment plan varies depending on the symptoms and the severity of the inflammation. Each person responds to treatment in a unique way. The basic goals of treatment are to achieve remission and to maintain remission.
Remission is the phase of symptom-free time which can last a few months or even years. Most of the individuals with ulcerative colitis can usually achieve “remission – a welcome relief” with medications.
You can consider yourself in remission if your symptoms have decreased or completed disappeared. Since remission can mean different to different people, its best to work with your doctor to determine if are you in a state of remission. Once you reach remission, a maintenance treatment plan is tailored to ensure that you stay in the relief zone. This may include safe and effective medications which may be different from the ones which helped you to get into remission. Talk to your doctor about the symptoms you experience so your doctor can better understand your condition and whether or not your treatment is working.
Flare-up is the most frustrating pattern of ulcerative colitis. Be aware certain foods, smoking, emotional or physical stress, few medications can irritate the intestinal tract and may trigger flare-ups. Flare-ups of ulcerative colitis can be managed by increasing the dose of your medications for a few days or weeks until symptoms resolve. Routine check-ups with your doctor are essential to ensure treatment is effective.
As per the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, following are the guidelines to help prevent flares and keep you in remission:
- Adhere to the exercise regimen as recommended by your doctor. Exercise help regulate your bowel movements.
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet while avoiding trigger foods such as dairy products.
- Avoid smoking.
- Learn relaxation techniques to cope with stressful situations.
- It is very important that you don’t make any changes in your treatment plan without consulting your doctor. Altering your medication dose or substituting it with another medication can result in a flare-up.
Resist the urge to stop treatment or take a drug holiday as this can result in a flare. The best way to prolong your state of remission is to continue your medications though you are free of symptoms and feel well.
At Greater Houston Gastroenterology, we provide specialized services and treatments for a wide range of gastrointestinal conditions. Our dedicated clinical staff and physician assistants are available to assist in delivering high-quality treatment and expert care. As the largest GI group in the greater Houston area, we offer 17 locations for your convenience.