Ulcerative colitis is a long-term disease that can cause different symptoms in different people. Someone can have it without developing any symptoms, while others suffer from frequent flare-ups.
Regardless of the severity of the condition, it is still possible to effectively manage your abdominal pain and other symptoms, including diarrhea and weight loss. Taking medication, following a healthy diet, and reducing stress levels can all help decrease the chances of a flare.
To help your healthcare provider find out what is the culprit of your abdominal pain and other symptoms, you need to be able to accurately describe it. Try to keep a colitis symptom journal to write down what you are feeling.
You should also be reading to speak with a specialist about any negative emotions you might be experiencing. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, this is particularly true if you think you may suffer from depression, which can exacerbate existing pain.
Once you’ve described your pain in the right way, your doctor will likely be able to track down the root cause of your pain and begin treating it.
Let’s look at some ways to control chronic pain caused by ulcerative colitis. P.S. Some of these methods can also be helpful for people with chronic pain caused by any other conditions.
1. Reduce your stress levels
Stress is similar to depression, as it can worsen the pain and other symptoms of ulcerative colitis. Learning ways to manage stress through prescribed meditation, yoga, tai chi, or deep breathing might help reduce stress and, as a result, alleviate your pain from ulcerative colitis. If you can’t cope with stress on your own, talk to your physician or psychologist.
2. Talk to your doctor about surgery
Surgery is a long-lasting treatment approach for ulcerative colitis. The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation reports that 23 to 45 percent of people with ulcerative colitis might need surgery at some point, partially due to severe symptoms that no longer respond to medication.
Surgery options include a proctocolectomy (the removal of the rectum and all or part of the colon); a colectomy (the removal of all or part of the colon); and an ileostomy (a surgically created hole in the abdomen that allows waste to leave the body).
3. Adjust your diet
Though food doesn’t lead to ulcerative colitis itself, your diet has a huge impact on your symptoms. Diet can either trigger or ease them. You might find that eating a diet that’s low in certain sugars or fiber, especially insoluble fiber, which passes through the gastrointestinal tract undigested, or free of lactose or gluten helps you control your inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Caffeine and carbonated drinks might also exacerbate your symptoms, as can spicy dishes. In some people, diet can provoke a flare.
4. Take medications according to your doctor’s prescription
It’s essential to stick to your prescribed medication regimen if you want to manage your pain and other symptoms effectively. There is a wide range of drugs your doctor can prescribe to treat your specific symptoms. Some of them can work by modifying your immune response which is crucial since ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune condition, while others are aimed at reducing the inflammation in your gut. If you skip doses or don’t take the medication as prescribed, you will reduce its effectiveness and run the risk of having a flare-up.
If you’re suffering from mild pain, a specialist might recommend acetaminophen, but you might have to avoid taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen or naproxen, since they can increase pain and exacerbate symptoms.