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Ulcerative Colitis: Care Instructions

A normal colon and ulcerative colitis

Your Care Instructions

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The large intestine (colon) gets inflamed and ulcers form in your colon. These ulcers can bleed.

People have "attacks" of ulcerative colitis. Attacks can come and go. They can cause painful belly cramps and bloody diarrhea.

This disease can affect part or all of the colon. How bad the disease gets will often depend on how much of the colon is affected.

Bad attacks are often treated in a hospital. There you can get medicines, fluid, and nutrition through a tube in your vein, called an I.V. This lets your digestive system rest and recover.

If the medicines don't work well, surgery may be needed to remove the colon.

At home, you can help control your ulcerative colitis. Take your medicines and try to eat well. And see your doctor as much as he or she recommends.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Do not take anti-inflammatory medicines, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). They may make your symptoms worse.
  • Talk to your doctor before you take any other medicines or natural health products.
  • Eat healthy foods. Avoid foods that make your symptoms worse. These might include milk, alcohol, or spicy foods.
  • Make sure to get enough iron. Rectal bleeding may make you lose iron. Foods with a lot of iron include beef, lentils, spinach, and raisins. They also include iron-enriched breads and cereals.
  • Take any nutrition supplements that your doctor prescribes.
  • This disease can affect all parts of your life. Get support from friends and family. You may also want to get some counselling.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your stools are maroon or very bloody.
  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are vomiting.
  • You have new or worse belly pain.
  • Your have a fever.
  • You cannot pass stool or gas.
  • You have new or more blood in your stools.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your have new or worse symptoms.
  • You are losing weight.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.