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5 Ways to Manage Ulcerative Colitis

5 Ways to Manage Ulcerative Colitis

About 1.3% of American adults suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a chronic disease including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC). One of the significant differences between these two types of IBD is where they occur: Crohn’s can affect any part of the digestive tract, while ulcerative colitis affects the large intestine (colon) and rectum.

Ulcerative colitis takes a physical and emotional toll on the men and women who suffer from it. The team at Desert West Surgery has extensive experience helping patients manage their UC symptoms, so they can focus on enjoying their lives again. Here are five things you can do to manage your UC symptoms.

#1: Make smart food choices

One of the simplest yet most effective ways to manage your UC symptoms is to pay close attention to what you eat. Keeping a food diary helps identify which foods are more likely to trigger your symptoms, so you know to avoid those foods whenever possible.

Many people find decreasing or even eliminating dairy foods helps, especially the full-fat varieties. You should also pay attention to fiber. Some people find foods high in insoluble fiber (whole grains, like oatmeal and most vegetables and fruits) help their symptoms, while others may find they trigger them. For people who are sensitive, try cooking vegetables and fruits instead of eating them raw.

What you drink is crucial, too. Sipping on water during the day is an excellent way to support healthy digestion. Skip alcoholic beverages and avoid beverages with caffeine or carbonation since all these drinks can worsen your symptoms.

#2: Alter how you eat

Making smart food choices is critical. But tweaking how you eat can also help reduce your symptom flare-ups, sometimes dramatically. Instead of consuming three larger meals during the day, consider eating several small meals. Why? Because five or six smaller meals won’t overload your digestive system. 

Just make sure the meals are healthy. A snack of sweets, chips or another unhealthy choice can leave you with nutritional deficiencies and trigger digestive upsets. The aim is to choose various foods to achieve a healthy, balanced diet — just with more frequent meals.

#3: Manage your stress

Stress and anxiety are significant UC triggers for many people, so it makes sense that you should try to do all you can to limit your stress. Managing stress isn’t always easy, but there are some simple things you can do — starting today — to help keep your stress under control.

Something as simple as setting aside some “me” time in your daily schedule can help tremendously. Listening to music, reading a book, or taking a leisurely walk are great ways to unwind, and so are stress-busting activities like meditation, focused breathing, yoga, and tai chi.

Not sure where to begin? Seeing a therapist helps many UC patients learn to tame both stress and their symptoms. Bonus: Keeping stress under control improves your overall health, too.

#4: Learn about medication

UC therapies have come a long way from the therapies used even a few years ago. Today, plenty of medication therapies don’t have the same side effects as medicines used in the past. Talk to your doctor about medications used to reduce symptoms or even prevent UC flare-ups in the first place.

#5: Consider surgery

According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, as many as 45% of people with UC turn to colon surgery for long-term treatment of their symptoms, and to prevent more extensive damage. Often, surgery is recommended when other options, like medication, are no longer effective in managing symptom flare-ups.

The type of surgery depends on the extent of the damage caused by UC, including the parts of your colon that are affected. Some surgeries remove part of all of the colon, with or without the rectum. Other surgeries create an opening in your abdomen to allow waste to leave your body without passing through the colon and rectum.

Don’t let your UC symptoms control your life

Ulcerative colitis is a serious medical issue that requires ongoing management to prevent complications and keep your symptoms under control. Our team offers comprehensive, patient-centered UC care at our three locations in Las Vegas, Nevada. To learn how they can help you, call Desert West Surgery and book your appointment today.

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