Ulcerative Colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that can be an embarrassing condition for many people who have it. Living with ulcerative colitis means the symptoms can vary from painful ulcers and sores in the colon or the large intestine, which leads to diarrhea, constipation, bloody stools, and stomach pain. However, these can go into remission, where you experience little to no symptoms. And there are periods when symptoms worsen, which are flare-ups.
If you’re or have just been recently diagnosed with one, the good news is that your outlook for living with UC is better than before. But you may still have questions on how to live with ulcerative colitis. But following the tips below will help you navigate life when living with colitis.
Become an advocate of Ulcerative Colitis
Living with UC means dealing with lifelong symptoms affecting your personal life. Therefore, advocating for it can help you deal with the daily challenges of living with it. It can include speaking up about your condition to family and friends, attending support groups and sharing your journey, or even writing a blog about it.
Doing so can help you realize that you’re not alone and helps provide much-needed support to those with similar conditions. Here are some things you must do to prepare yourself:
- Learn more about the condition: UC is an extensive condition you will want to learn more about once you’re diagnosed. So before you can become an advocate, you must start from scratch before explaining it.
- Print handy information: You can print a simple infographic or pamphlet about ulcerative colitis that you can give to friends and family. They can read it to understand further what your condition is all about.
- Understanding your rights as someone with UC: You should start exploring eligibility requirements as someone living with UC. Furthermore, you can check out laws under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Traveling with UC
If you’re traveling with UC, you must be very careful if you want your trip to go as smoothly and seamlessly as possible. Make sure that you follow these tips:
- Ready your medicines: Pack your medications and health essentials, such as your ostomy accessories and bag (for those who have had an operation). Ensure they are in their original packaging and are good to go when passing security.
- For those with an ostomy bag: Remember to inform the TSA personnel if you have an ostomy bag.
- Get in touch with your physician: Talk to your healthcare team so that they can give you advice on immunizations and precautions.
- Know all about the destination: Research your destination and know as much as possible regarding their pharmacies, healthcare centers, etc.
- Eat healthily: Remember to stay on track with your diet. You can still remember your eating habits even if you’re on vacation or traveling.
How to navigate social situations with Colitis
Flare-ups can happen anywhere and anytime, greatly affecting your social life. Sometimes, living with ulcerative colitis means you can’t enjoy your usual activities. However, it should allow you to have fun. You can follow the tips below that will make it easier for you when you’re out and about:
- Always be prepared: Wherever you go, know what to expect. It includes looking for the most accessible restrooms or keeping your medications ready.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help: Whether it be a friend or family, don’t hesitate to ask them for help if you need it. It could mean getting a closer restroom or having someone with you when you need emotional support.
- Be honest: Don’t let UC hold you back from living your life. You must be honest about your condition and seek to help others understand what you’re going through.
- Ask your health provider before drinking alcohol or smoking: Whether you want a glass of wine or smoke as a form of social interaction, it’s best to ask your doctor as it may pose a risk to your gastrointestinal tract. Even though it affects each person with UC differently, you must ensure it’s safe for you.
- Navigating relationships as someone with UC: Your comfort level with someone is essential when living with ulcerative colitis. Even though it’s not a condition to be ashamed of, you must be honest with your loved ones. It helps them learn more about the disease and how they can support you.
Women living with Ulcerative Colitis
Women and men with ulcerative colitis can share the same symptoms and challenges. But there may be differences that women should be more aware of:
- Conception: Conception with UC is allowed, and it’s normal for any other woman. However, it’s not recommended during flare-ups or an active disease state. Either way, always talk to your healthcare provider before getting pregnant.
- Fertility: Women with active inflammation have reduced fertility, but it depends on which part of the large intestine is affected.
- Pregnancy: Women with UC generally have healthy pregnancies. But there are complications when the disease is active, such as miscarriages, premature delivery, stillbirth, and developmental effects.
Living with UC doesn’t have to be a burden
Ulcerative Colitis is a life-changing and lifelong disease that you have to manage day by day. There are many treatments available, such as medication therapy and surgery. You may go into remission or experience flare-ups that leave you exhausted and drained.
No matter what, there are always ways to cope with your condition. And with the tips mentioned above, you can make living with UC easier and more manageable. Ensure that you strictly follow them to take back control of your life.
The most important advice is never to be ashamed and ask for help when needed. It’s OK to seek support from friends, family, and healthcare professionals. After all, living with UC doesn’t have to be a burden but an opportunity to live healthier lives.