Diet Changes

Six Ways to Prepare for an Ulcerative Colitis Flare

Sara Suchy Nov 13th, 2012 (updated Nov 8th, 2016)
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Ulcerative colitis and other Inflammatory Bowel Disease flares are almost impossible to predict or prevent. Here are six simple step to make sure you're prepared for a flare if it does happen.

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Call your doctor
Call your doctor

If you start to have an IBD flare, call your doctor or gastroenterologist right away.  It is important to keep your doctor aware of your situation if for no other reason that to ensure you have an accurate record of each of your flare.  Chances are your doctor will want to see you in his or her office as soon as possible.

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Change your diet
Change your diet

During an IBD flare, your stomach and intestines will be extremely sensitive.  Each person's food sensitivities will differ, but generally you should stick to foods that are easily digested, such as grilled chicken, yogurt, white rice, applesauce and bananas. 

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Stay hydrated
Stay hydrated

When you have multiple diarrhea bowel movements per day you will lose a lot of water.  If that fluid is not replaced quickly, you will become dehydrated.  Be sure to drink a lot of water and, if your stomach can handle it, a diluted sports drink with sodium and electrolytes to replace the nutrients lost.

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Toilet paper and baby wipes
Toilet paper and baby wipes

Because most IBD flares involve several bowel movements per day, it is a good idea to keep toilet paper in stock, as well as baby wipes to sooth the skin if the flare lasts several days and is especially painful.

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Take time to rest
Take time to rest

An IBD flare will wear you out both physically and mentally.  If you can afford to take time off of work, do it.  If not, go easy on yourself.  Get plenty of sleep when you can and don't be afraid to ask for help.

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Learn relaxation techniques
Learn relaxation techniques

It is helpful for some people to establish a yoga or meditation practice to relax the body during a flare.  It is best to ease your way into these practices (don't do yoga for the first time during a flare) and use them simply to take your mind off the discomfort and relax yourself. There are many yoga and meditation videos that can guide you through a beginner's practice.