Understanding What It's Like to Live With Ulcerative Colitis

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a disease that causes chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. It is considered an immune problem because the body actually attacks its own tissue in the intestines which results in swelling and symptoms like chronic diarrhea and cramps. About 1 out of 250 people in the United States (or 1.4 million people) have inflammatory bowel disease. 

The two most common types of inflammatory bowel disease are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease causes inflammation in the lining of the digestive tract which can affect one or more areas of including the small intestine and large intestine. Ulcerative colitis is a condition that causes inflammation that is long-lasting and ulcers in the colon and rectum. 


Warning Signs of a Flare:

  • A fever over 101 F
  • No bowel movements
  • Severe belly pain
  • Pus drainage when you go to the bathroom
  • Constant diarrhea
  • New or more blood in your stool, or any blood clots

Hydration is incredibly important when you live with colitis. The large intestine struggles to absorb water and salt. This is what triggers dehydration. UC flares create diarrhea and this also dehydrates. The goal is to drink enough water and other liquids so you're not thirsty. 

Chronic diarrhea can also bother your skin. Try using moist towelettes for wiping. You can also try following that up with an ointment such as a Vitamin A and D cream. Also, try soaking in a salt water bath. It can relieve soreness.

Stress also can exaggerate the symptoms and flares worse in those with colitis. Try meditation, breathing exercises, walking, or even a massage. A professional therapist may also help you through other therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy or hypnotherapy.