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Diagnosing and Managing Ulcerative Colitis (UC)

About Ulcerative Colitis (UC)

To help determine if you have UC, your doctor will want to have an open, honest conversation with you about your past and current health, or medical history. It’s important to share information about your medical history, including the symptoms you’re experiencing, and any recent travel, which may help to rule out bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections. Don’t forget to tell your doctor about all the medications, vitamins, or supplements you’re taking and whether you have any drug allergies. This information can help your doctor determine whether your symptoms may be caused by a medication that you are taking, or if there is a drug interaction or a drug allergy to a particular UC medication he or she may be considering. Your doctor will also want to know if you have a family history of digestive disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Common tests used to diagnose ulcerative colitis

Multiple tests are used to diagnose UC. After a careful physical exam, blood tests, and a stool sample, your doctor may order other tests, as well, to determine if you have UC.

Your doctor may want to schedule you for a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy, commonly performed procedures that allow the doctor to see inside your colon. A colonoscopy is an exam that uses a tool with a small camera attached to it, called a colonoscope. The colonoscope transmits a video image of the entire colon and rectum.

A sigmoidoscopy is a similar exam but views only the rectum and part of the colon on the left side of your body.

Both tests may be done by a specialist in a doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital.

While there is no medication that can cure UC, there are effective treatments for managing UC.

Managing ulcerative colitis

UC is a chronic disease. A chronic disease is a condition that continues for a long period of time. There are some specific things you can do when living with UC, including:

  • Keeping a diary or calendar to record your UC symptoms (PDF) and track the medications you are taking.
  • Planning ahead when you’ll be away from home. Find out where the restrooms are located on planes or trains and try to book an aisle seat. Ask to sit near a bathroom in restaurants and know where they are in shopping areas.
  • Planning for an emergency and having necessities on hand. Make an emergency kit to take with you. A kit could include:
    • Extra underclothing, adult diapers, or toilet tissue — just in case
    • Wet wipes
    • Pocket tissue packs
  • Following a well-balanced diet. No one diet will work for everyone with this disease, so it’s important to work with your health care team to determine which dietary approach is right for you. Remember, good nutrition is an important aspect of healthy living for everyone, not just people with UC.

Learn about Lialda as a treatment option for active, mild to moderate UC

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