5 Tips to Avoid Episodes of Ulcerative Colitis

24 May, 2020
Improving your lifestyle can help your ulcerative colitis treatment, minimizing outbreaks of the illness. In this article you'll discover a series of recommendations to alleviate it.

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract. It happens when the lining of the large intestine, rectum, or both become inflamed. So, how can you overcome episodes of ulcerative colitis?

The disease can go into remission for periods, characterized by light or barely perceptible symptoms. However, it has periods where you experience episodes or outbreaks. In these periods, you might experience daily episodes of diarrhea, pain, and abdominal colic, among other symptoms.

Generally, treatment varies depending on medical considerations and factors like age, habits, and the health of the affected person. However, there are some general recommendations that can help you alleviate some symptoms and to avoid complications.

How do you recognize episodes of ulcerative colitis?

An episode of ulcerative colitis.
Colitis is considered an autoimmune disease, which affects the intestinal tract.

Clinical signs of ulcerative colitis can be different in each person, depending on the response of your immune system and your lifestyle. In fact, many patients experience light symptoms or asymptomatic periods. However, the disease has times of outbreak in which you might experience:

  • Intense abdominal pain
  • Increase in stomach noises
  • Blood in your feces
  • Diarrhea
  • Mild fever
  • Rectal pain
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Skin problems
  • Loss of appetite and nausea

Read also: Ulcerative Colitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Tips to treat episodes of ulcerative colitis

To properly treat an episode of ulcerative colitis, it’s extremely important that you receive a medical diagnosis. A health professional can determine if the symptoms you experience are due to ulcerative colitis or other problems like Crohn’s disease or diverticulosis.

The medical examination might include blood tests, stool samples, a barium enema, or colonoscopy, among others. Then, if the symptoms correspond to an episode of ulcerative colitis, the doctor might suggest some medicine and lifestyle changes. In the most serious cases, surgery might be necessary.

Generally, there are some tips that can help prevent and treat these outbreaks. They are simple measures that you can take in your daily life, both in times of remission and during episodes. Put them in practice!

1. Limit dairy products

Dairy products.
Some studies have found evidence of a worsening of symptoms related to consumption of dairy products.

Currently, there isn’t sufficient evidence to confirm that your diet causes ulcerative colitis. However, research has been able to show that some foods and drinks can aggravate the symptoms, especially during outbreaks.

One type of harmful food is dairy products. Regular consumption of dairy products can worsen symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea, and gas. Therefore, you should limit your consumption of milk, cheese, ice cream, and processed yogurts as much as possible.

2. Increase fiber intake

Dietary fiber plays a very important role in your digestive health. In cases of ulcerative colitis it can be a good thing or a bad thing. Eating it in moderation can help maintain regular digestion during periods of remission. However, when you suffer an episode, it can actually be counterproductive.

Eating a lot of fiber can worsen many symptoms like inflammation, gas, and diarrhea. Therefore, the best thing to do is to limit your consumption of whole grains, dried fruits, nuts, vegetables, and other sources of fiber during an outbreak. However, don’t completely stop eating them.

Discover: 8 Types of Foods To Avoid with Colitis

3. Avoid alcoholic drinks and energy drinks

An alcoholic drink.
Alcoholic drinks and energy drinks promote intestinal inflammation and the associated symptoms.

One key to face an episode of ulcerative colitis is to know which drinks to choose to keep your body hydrated. Without a doubt, water is the best option. However, some teas and infusions are also beneficial. Generally, you should completely avoid alcoholic drinks, or drinks with stimulants (like caffeine).

Beer, wine, coffee, and sodas all increase intestinal problems and worsen diarrhea. Sodas can be the most problematic, since they cause a larger accumulation of gas.

4. Make small meals

Another measure that can alleviate the symptoms of this disease is to spread your meals out more. Instead of having three main meals throughout the day, it’s better to have five smaller meals. This lessens the load on your digestive system and promotes intestinal balance.

5. Control stress

A stressed woman.
Recent studies have shown the influence of stress on exacerbating symptoms of colitis.

It’s clear that stress is not a direct cause of ulcerative colitis. However, knowing how to manage it is very important in order to minimize your symptoms. For example, being exposed to constant stress and anxiety can trigger breakouts. Some measures to minimize stress are:

  • Do moderate physical exercise
  • Get therapeutic massages
  • Enjoy aromatherapy sessions
  • Meditate and do yoga

Do you suffer from this disease? Then, don’t forget to ask for regular medical checkups. Although you might have asymptomatic periods, it’s best to know for sure how this problem evolves.

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