If you suffer from colitis, you know that the symptoms are often painful and embarrassing. Sometimes it seems as though a flare-up will never end. Inflammatory bowel diseases such as colitis and Crohn’s disease are not curable, but they are treatable. Many people with colitis are able to enjoy happy and productive lives when the disease goes into remission. Therapy that is a combination of medication and changes in diet lessens the severity of colitis symptoms and helps keep it in remission longer. Although no two people experience the disease exactly the same, there is still help for colitis.
Medication is one of the most effective ways to treat colitis. There are several different types your doctor may prescribe for you, depending on the severity of your symptoms. Anti-inflammatory drugs are the first line of defense against colitis. Drugs such as balsalazide and mesalamine help colitis by decreasing inflammation in the colon and rectum. They are usually well-tolerated and have the least number of side effects. Corticosteroids can also help reduce inflammation for people with moderate to severe inflammation that does not respond to other treatment. Because they can have so many side effects, they are only for short-term use.
Immune system suppressors are another type of medication that helps colitis. They work directly on the immune system instead of the inflammation itself. They suppress the body’s response to invading viruses and bacterium as well as abnormal responses when there are no invaders. These medications include cyclosporine, mercaptopurine, and azothioprine. Some of these medications can have severe side effects as well, and are only prescribed if other medications are not successful in reducing symptoms.
Making changes in your diet is the other most significant factor in reducing symptoms and keeping colitis in remission. A diet that is high in fatty, fried and processed foods contributes to aggravating the diarrhea and abdominal pain that accompanies colitis. Fiber intake should be monitored to determine how much fiber your body can safely tolerate without affecting the colitis. Other known food triggers include spicy foods, some raw fruits and vegetables, and dairy products if you are lactose intolerant. Caffeine and alcohol are also known to irritate the stomach due to acidity or stimulant effects, and should be avoided during flare-ups and consumed sparingly while symptoms are in remission.
Another change to your diet that will greatly reduce the chances of a flare-up is eating by the principles of food combining. Food combining is a safe and effective way to reduce the amount of stress your stomach undergoes while digesting food. Foods that are not compatible with your digestion process can wreak havoc on your stomach and cause gas, abdominal pain and bloating. This is because your stomach has to produce conflicting enzymes to digest proteins eaten with starches, or fruit eaten with other foods.
When you follow food combining, these digestion problems will decrease or disappear. Your stomach will only produce one type of enzyme at a time for digestion, making the process easier and gentler on your body. The result is smooth digestion without the unpleasant gastrointestinal effects that can cause a colitis flare-up. Try food combining and you will be amazed at the difference it will make in your digestive health.