Living with Ulcerative Colitis

Living with Ulcerative Colitis

Millions of people all around the world suffer daily from an inflammatory bowel disease popularly known as Ulcerative Colitis. It affects the large intestine (colon) all the way to the rectum by causing open sores or ulcer and inflammation in the lining of the intestine. These open sores cause a lot of abdominal pain, discomfort, and diarrhea accompanied by bleeding and pus.

The cause of Ulcerative Colitis is still being debated. Some scientists believe it is caused by an abnormal response of the immune system where the body sends white blood cells to fight food and other material in the intestine instead of infections, as it is supposed to.

While others believe that it is a reaction to other bad bacteria and viruses, environmental factors or that it is passed on in the genes. It might also be that it is triggered by a complex interaction of some or all of these factors. None of these have been proven.

Ulcerative Colitis typically affects an average of 700,000 people a year, both men and women. The disease is usually diagnosed before the age of 30 and has also been found in children. The severity of the disease can be measured by the level of pain and diarrhea suffered. Symptoms of the disease abound, but one cannot be sure until proper tests are carried out.

The road to diagnosis involves getting a colonoscopy- a look into the entire of the patient which may also involve a biopsy. One may also get blood tests which check for inflammation or infection in the blood stream and a sample of one’s stool sample which will be tested for infection, blood and an increase in white blood cells.

Ulcerative colitis comes with symptoms which the sufferer has to live with all his/her life. Some of these symptoms are fatigue and loss of nutrient and body fluids that results from the constant emptying of the colon.

Joint pain and anemia are also symptoms which occur as a result of constant bleeding in the lining of the colon and in the stool. The appetite and weight of the sufferer may also suffer a drastic loss that comes from the fear of food causing diarrhea and constant diarrhea.

In children, the condition can lead to growth failure because they may refuse to eat and lose a lot of fluids and electrolytes that could help in their growth.

According to the mildness or moderateness of the symptoms being experienced, drugs or steroids are prescribed, but as a last resort, surgery is carried out. This surgery involves the removal of the colon and is also an option for those who have had the disease for a long time because their probability of getting colon cancer is usually higher.

Sometimes the symptoms go into remission for months or years before they reappear. This has made it difficult for researchers on the subject to determine what treatment works best for patients with the disease because results vary according to every patient.

The first and most popular treatment of the symptoms of ulcerative colitis is with anti-inflammatory medications. Other people use vitamin supplements and special diets while some swear by herbal remedies and chiropractic therapy.  Unfortunately, there is no known treatment for the disease.

Ulcerative colitis should not be allowed to reduce one’s quality of life; living with the disease is tricky but possible. There is a multitude of medication, food, steroids and therapies that can be tested until the patient finds something suitable for him/her.

Pregnant women with ulcerative colitis have nothing to fear as it can be properly maintained. Of course, unhealthy practices like smoking during pregnancy should be avoided as it raises the probability of the child coming down with the disease.

Treating the symptoms with medication involves taking a lot of vitamins. Doctors usually prescribe Vitamin D and B12, folic acid, fish oil and soluble fiber. Aminosalicylates are used to treat inflammation of the gut and prevent flare up of the symptoms.

Corticosteroids and Immunomodulators are prescribed to weaken the immune system which in turn prevents flare-ups, reduces general symptoms and increases remission time. These medications work for some but do not work for others.

Also, some of these medications come with some side effects which might put a lot of people off or prove to be worse than living with mild symptoms. However, the use of the correct vitamins that meets the body’s needs has been shown to reduce the need to seek alternative remedies.

Throughout the years, a lot of natural treatments involving herbs have surfaced. Doctors even advise patients to try these alternative treatments. The first is the juice of the Aloe Vera plant which, when introduced into one’s diet has shown a drastic reduction in symptoms.

Some Naturopathic doctors also use liquid chlorophyll, chamomile, Boswellia, and turmeric according to what works for each patient. The veracity of these claims has not been backed by scientific studies but has proven to be effective in a lot of cases.

It is always wise to consult one’s doctor no matter what path one decides to take on the management of the disease. When using these natural alternatives one must be careful to ensure that it is gotten from the right sources and administered in the right dosages.

It has also been discovered that necessary improvements to one’s diet when combined with the necessary medication or herbs, contributes to helping in managing and controlling symptoms. It may be difficult but very necessary to start eating healthy.

One should get rid of artificial sweeteners, caffeine, salt and preservatives, etc. to prevent the flare-up of symptoms and to ensure that the disease does not progress past its mild stage. Anxiety and stress seem to cause flare-ups so it is advised that they should consider a lot of rest and good food which means selecting meat and fish products that do not contain added hormones, salt or preservatives. For an ulcerative colitis diet, organic food is best.

Also, take your allergies and sensitivities into consideration to ensure that you have a balanced diet. Discard any food that causes your symptoms to flare up and dig into foods like yogurt that cause good bacteria to flourish. It is imperative that your doctor is well informed about any dietary changes you undergo as it will help him help you better.

There are treatments under the field of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which is used together with traditional treatment to help ease symptoms. As has been said before, anxiety and stress may cause symptoms to flare up or one to come out of remission.

These therapies help to control one’s symptoms and ease the pain, they concentrate on a holistic approach which treats the mind, body, and spirit to enhance one’s feelings of well-being, quality of life, and it may possibly boost the immune system.

Some of these therapies include chiropractic and massage therapies which involve body manipulation and movement to promote health. Choose your Naturopathic doctor and therapist carefully as it will determine how well your sessions go, and will go a long way in the management of your symptoms while helping to make life more comfortable for you. Always investigate and ensure you choose accredited and licensed practitioners before going ahead with any treatment.