Eleven years of living with ulcerative colitis has taught me several ways to stop flare ups. Most are natural and easy…but one is a pain in the butt. Literally!
You want to stop ulcerative colitis from flaring for many reasons, including your summer vacation plans. You want to enjoy road trips without making pit stops every 10 minutes, right? Here’s what Cynthia says about summer road trips and ulcerative colitis – she blogs about living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
“For those of us with IBD/IBS the fear of not getting to a bathroom in time anywhere, at anytime is concerning enough but when we are in an unfamiliar territory it can be a tremendously anxious time. While everyone else is enjoying the trip and all that it entails, we may be panicking that we may not find a bathroom, in time! While everyone else is enjoying the sights, the smells, the food… We are looking around for the nearest bathroom.”
Ugh – I’ve always made it to the washroom in time, but I’ve some close calls.
If you have colitis, Crohn’s Disease, or other bowel issues, read Living with Crohn’s & Colitis: A Comprehensive Naturopathic Guide for Complete Digestive Wellness. Even if you have a gastrointestinal doctor, like I do, it’s important to understand and learn how to control IBD naturally.
Here’s what naturpathic doctor Allison Becker says about this book: “Dr. Black and Dede Cummings’ book offers a unique, balanced perspective for those living with Crohn’s disease and/or colitis. Dr. Black succinctly and clearly teaches what is going on in the body on a cellular level…she explains what people can do to take care of their own digestive health by decreasing inflammation and restoring balance to their gastrointestinal systems. Dede Cummings, having lived with Crohn’s disease for many years, shares her personal journey through her conventional and naturopathic medical treatment, and mental/emotional stress management. Her contribution in this book leaves Crohn’s and colitis suffers inspired to take control of their own health.”
I like that this book offers both a medical doctor’s and a patient’s perspective of inflammatory bowel disease and symptom management. The best of both worlds, yah?
4 Ways to Stop Ulcerative Colitis From Flaring
These tips work for me and my particular type of IBD. While they may not keep your colitis or Crohn’s in remission, the definitely won’t hurt you!
Use medication before the colitis flares – stay connected to your guts
I use Pentasa enemas, but only when I can feel the colitis about to flare. I feel swollen and slight discomfort before it flares, and I’ve learned that I need to give myself an enema before the colitis rears its ugly head! It’s much more effective to stop a flare up before it happens, instead of trying to get it into remission after it’s active.
Enemas are more effective than suppositories, because the liquid soaks into the bowel quickly and easily. I used suppositories for about eight years, until a new gastrointestinologist recommended enemas instead.
While I wish my first way to keep my colitis in remission wasn’t with prescription medication, I’m afraid I haven’t found anything else that works as good as the drugs. It doesn’t matter what I eat – I can eat popcorn, nuts, caffeine, dairy – but when my colitis wants to flare, the only thing that tamps it down is a good, old-fashioned enema. It’s a pain in the butt, but it works for me.
Make time to take care of yourself
I had to work later than usual last night – I’m a Mentoring Coordinator with Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver, and we had an Awards Night. I’ve been on the brink of a colitis flare up for five days, and have run out of prescription medication. Last night I didn’t want to go out of my way to the pharmacy to stock up on enemas, and on the way home I got a speeding ticket!!! It could’ve been $200, but the officer gave me a discount: $121.
See what happens when you don’t make time to take care of your health? Not only did I lose $121, I’ve edged even closer to a colitis flare up because getting stopped by the cops stressed me out. If you want your IBD to stay in remission, you need to go out of your way take care of your health.
Also, read research on how pet ownership affects your health in positive ways: Does Owning a Dog Make You Happy?
Get enough sleep!
One of the best ways to stop ulcerative colitis – or any inflammatory bowel disease – from flaring is to sleep, sleep, SLEEP. I get eight hours a night, and often take a 30 minute nap during the day. I also try to get at least three hours of sleep beforemidnight. I’ve found that getting eight hours of sleep aftermidnightdoesn’t make me feel as rested as sleeping before midnight does.
Sleep can keep colitis in remission for so many reasons, both physical and emotional. It helps restore brain and cell energy, recharges our minds and bodies, increases protein buildup, helps maintain social and emotional functioning, helps encode memories, improves learning ability, and helps process memories.
Sleeping is an easy, effective way to stop ulcerative colitis from flaring. Well, it’s easy for me! If you struggle with insomnia, read 9 Natural Sleep Remedies to Help You Fall and Stay Asleep.
Stay calm – tell yourself you have enough time
When I get stressed, my colitis flares. When I get too excited, my colitis flares. When I have fun, my colitis flares!
So, to stop ulcerative colitis or other IBDs from flaring, don’t have fun – don’t go anywhere, do anything, or challenge yourself in any way.
Bo-ring!! Instead, figure out how to incorporate fun and excitement into your life without letting it stress you out. For instance, I feel like time is precious and life is so short. So, I try to do things as quickly as possible and I waste as little time as I can. But, this sorta stresses me out. So, I’ve experimented with different ways to stay calm – and one of my tricks is to tell myself that I have enough time. I take a deep breath, and say, “You have enough time to get this done, Laurie.” It works.
To stop inflammatory bowel disease from flaring, find ways to cope with stress. You’ll never eliminate stress from your life – especially if you have a chronic disease like ulcerative colitis – but you can cope with it in healthy ways.
Also – find ways to make your ulcerative colitis work FOR you! For instance, I’m going to grad school in the fall. I’ll be studying to get my MSW (Master’s of Social Work) at UBC (University of British Columbia). I’ve applied for a $5,000 scholarship for people with IBD. If I have to live with a chronic disease, I might as well take advantage of the perks!
A related bladder disease is Interstitial Cystitis – and some of the treatments are the same.
If you have any ways to stop ulcerative colitis from flaring, please comment below!
This article is old, so I rewrote and re-published it here: How I Keep My Ulcerative Colitis in Remission.