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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Frequently Asked Questions

Does stress cause ulcerative colitis?

Stress has not been shown to cause ulcerative colitis. It may, however, aggravate your symptoms. Manage your stress by learning when to remove yourself from situations, saying "no" sometimes, and cutting back a bit on commitments. Schedule a few moments every day to relax in a way that works best for you.

How can I cope with ulcerative colitis?

One of the best ways to cope with ulcerative colitis by learning how to manage your condition.
  1. Take your medication as prescribed
  2. Eat a nutritionally sound diet
  3. Get educated on the condition
  4. Finding emotional support

Would a support group help?

People all over the country attend support groups to help cope with ulcerative colitis. One organization is the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). Topics of discussion include:
  1. Reactions to having a chronic illness
  2. Reactions of friends and family
  3. Impact of Inflammatory Bowel Disease on lifestyle
  4. Talking with your doctor
  5. Feelings about medical treatment
  6. Feelings about sex
  7. Sharing coping strategies
For more information about CCFA's self-help groups in your area, visit their Web site at www.ccfa.org

Are mood swings normal?

Everyone experiences mood swings. When you feel stressed out, anxious, angry, or sad, try to identify why. The source of your mood swing may be something you can control. Sit back, collect your thoughts, and think about why you're upset. If you can't seem to shake feelings of fear, anger, or depression, be sure to speak with your health care professional. He or she can help you find the resources you need to resolve the problem.

What can I do to improve the relationship with my doctor?

Building a partnership with your doctor will help you effectively manage your ulcerative colitis. Remember that communication is a two-way street. Try these approaches:
  • Be honest with your doctor about your condition and your medication habits
  • Educate yourself about ulcerative colitis
  • Prepare for your appointments by bringing a list of questions or using the Talking-with-Your-Doctor Worksheet.
  • Take notes or have your doctor write down crucial information
  • Bring a family member or friend with you to your appointment to help you remember important information.

Where can I find support for dealing with the stress of ulcerative colitis?

There are a number of resources available to help you cope with the stress of living with ulcerative colitis. Try these resources:
  • Develop a partnership with your doctor so you can gain even more support.
  • Look at the resources available from Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, including local support groups.
  • Involve others in your quest. Get started by sharing a copy of the article You Are Not Alone.

How can I manage stress at work?

Some of the greatest sources of stress at work include overcoming embarrassment, the fear of discrimination, cancelled business appointments, decreased work activities, or the inability to perform at work. Try these approaches to help you reduce stress at your workplace:
  • Keep a positive attitude. When you do, people will have little room to speculate on your commitment to your job.
  • Discuss possible solutions for telecommuting on special projects. Today's office environment is more flexible than ever, making working from home a viable solution.
  • Read the personal insights from other people with ulcerative colitis and discover how they cope.

Is there a special diet for people with ulcerative colitis?

No single diet has been shown to benefit all people with ulcerative colitis. However, you can learn which foods cause you problems and avoid them. Some tips that may help you improve your nutrition and diet include:
  1. Eat a variety of low-fat foods to maintain your weight and meet your nutrient needs.
  2. Keep a diary to identify foods that trigger your symptoms.
  3. Determine if you are lactose intolerant because you may need to reduce or possibly eliminate dairy products.
  4. Identify high-fiber foods that may cause problems for you. Some people must avoid certain raw fruits and vegetables or whole grain cereals.
  5. Ask your doctor about supplements if the foods you can eat are limited or if you need to eliminate whole groups of foods such as dairy products.

Could caffeinated beverages such as coffee and soda aggravate ulcerative colitis?

There is no evidence that caffeine makes ulcerative colitis worse. However, as a stimulant to the colon, it may worsen symptoms such as diarrhea or cramping. If you think this could be true for you, talk with your doctor about temporarily eliminating caffeine from your diet to see if your symptoms improve.

Should alcoholic drinks be eliminated?

Alcohol can cause diarrhea for anyone. If alcohol consistently seems to worsen symptoms, it's recommended to avoid it. In addition, alcohol should not be used with certain drugs like prednisone since the combination may increase gastric irritation.

What about taking a multi-vitamin supplement?

Check with your doctor before taking a supplement. It could be helpful, especially if you avoid certain food groups during flare-ups.

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