Keep in Touch With Your Ulcerative Colitis Doctor
It’s important to have a gastrointestinal doctor who is accessible, says Bret A. Lashner, MD, director of the Center for Inflammatory Bowel Disease at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
And keep the communication flowing -- whether your doctor uses text messaging, email, or the traditional pager and telephone to stay in touch with you.
"The symptoms of ulcerative colitis, namely bleeding and diarrhea, change all the time," says Lashner. "There will be some good weeks and some bad weeks, and your medical therapy will have to be adjusted based on your symptoms."
Talking with your doctor is important even when you feel good. "That way we know when the right things are happening and we can adjust therapies for the better," Lashner says. "We have to keep in touch with our patients so we can always have them on the best therapy."
Tell The Truth: Are You Taking Your UC Medication?
One of the most important things you can do to manage your ulcerative colitis symptoms is to take your medications -- and keep taking them unless your doctor advises otherwise, even if your symptoms get better. While this may seem obvious, the majority of people with ulcerative colitis don’t keep up with their prescribed treatment plan, Lashner tells WebMD.
What stops them? They give many reasons, like forgetting to take medications and having too much trouble following a complicated medication regimen.
The most common reason, however, is that they feel better and think they don't need medication. But taking your maintenance medications as directed is the best way to keep feeling better.
“It’s been shown that if you adhere to therapy, you are better off, have fewer flares, and have less symptoms of ulcerative colitis,” Lashner says.
If you feel that your medication plan is too complicated, your doctor may be able to make adjustments. "Fortunately, now we have once-a-day maintenance therapy for ulcerative colitis,” he says. Ask your doctor if that would be right for you.
Remember that you have a say in your treatment plan. McDonald recalls a time when a doctor she saw during Sauk's absence changed her medications because there were newer options available. When the new drug didn't help her, she asked Sauk if she could go back on the older drug, which had worked. "She told me, 'It's your body and you know how you feel,” McDonald says. “'We can suggest treatments, but you have the ultimate decision.'”
Healthy Habits With Ulcerative Colitis
How well your doctor can take care of you depends partly on how well you take care of yourself. That means not only taking your medications, but also doing healthy things such as eating well and exercising.