Whenever Serena Ehrlich goes someplace new, she scouts out the location of the bathroom. That's because Ehrlich, 38, a Los Angeles-based salesperson for a commercial wire service, has ulcerative colitis. She developed the disease 12 years ago and has been in remission for the past three. Still, the old habit lingers. "Everyone who has ulcerative colitis will tell you that when you walk into a bookstore, a shop, or a restaurant, that's the one thing you want to know first. It's our rule of thumb."
Good communication helps a lot. So be open about your symptoms and concerns. Don’t say you're “fine” or “OK” if you’re not. And if you have flares, bring that up. When you keep your doctor informed, you’re more likely to enjoy longer periods without flare ups.
Most people with UC need to take meds that fight inflammation in their digestive tract, turn down their immune systems, or both.
When flares start, it could be that your doctor needs to adjust your treatment doses. Your symptoms can get worse if you don’t take your meds on schedule or if you stop taking them. Tell your doctor about everything you take, including over-the-counter medicines, in case they are triggers.
A problem like an infection could spell trouble, too. Let your doctor know about anything that’s going on with your health, even if it doesn’t seem to be related to your UC.
Write It Down
Keep a journal of all your health-related information so you can bring it to your next visit with your doctor. She'll want to know what foods you've been eating, and any flare triggers you’ve noticed.
Not only can it help you create an "eat this, not that" list, it can also help your doctor tell if you're getting the nutrition you need.
It also helps to track how often you go to the bathroom, how much comes out, and the amount of blood you might be losing. Take notes you can understand like, "Is it 100 tiny squirts a day or 10 squirts with large volume?"
Observe what the blood looks like. Is it watery or is it clots? Note what you see. You can also ask your doctor if you need to bring stool samples to your checkup.