Hi mummy bear,
Sorry you had to find us on such terms, but welcome all the same! Healingwell is SUCH a wonderful place, I don't know where I'd be without it. Everyone on here is great and always full of helpful advice, or at the least, some gentle words and reassurance. With a disease like this, it's really nice to know you're not alone, because sometimes it can certainly feel like you are!
As for your questions...
Does colitis always reappear? -- As of now, there is no cure for UC other than surgery, so technically the answer would be yes. However, some people go into remission and never have symptoms again or go years without any, so it's not like you're gauranteed to be stuck feeling sick every day for the rest of your life! There are maintenance medications that work very well for some people to space out times between flares and keep you in remission. Hopefully after your colonoscopy if you are diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, your doctor will get you on a treatment plan.
Do remission periods last long? -- It really depends on the person. As I said, some people have one flare and then never again, some people have years between flares, and then there are others like myself who only have remissions for a month or so. You just need to find something that works for you!
Can alternative medicine and therapies help? -- Again, this depends on the person as well. Some people have found great success with diet, probiotics, supplements, etc. I personally haven't found relief in these things but maybe I haven't tried hard enough. You mentioned you wanted to see a nutritionist, and that's a great idea! Also keeping a food diary and writing down things you eat and how you feel afterwards is very helpful in weeding out your "problem foods". Fruits and veggies won't always be off the menu, your gut probably just can't handle it right now. On good days, I can eat basically anything I want. On bad days I stick with a "low residue" diet of softer, blander foods.
Does stress cause it to flare up? -- For me, absolutely. Right now I'm under an immense amount of stress and am bleeding like crazy. Exercising or doing something like yoga when you're up to it can really help.
Should I be very concerned for my health? -- You should always be concerned and make sure you're taking care of yourself as best as you can, but at the same time try not to let it run your life. I know sometimes I feel like myself as a person is defined by my ulcerative colitis and it controls everything I do, but you want to try to stay away from thoughts like that. Be mindful of things you do, medications you take and their side effects, how you're feeling, any changes in your mood/pain/stool consistency (yes.. you'll find you're looking into the toilet a lot more than you'd like) but it's still completely possible to live a full and productive life.
Is it very serious? -- Sure, ulcerative colitis is serious but it doesn't mean it's hopeless. It's unfortunate that most of the medical community and our peers don't think it is serious and it doesn't get as much recognition as it should. It can be a very serious disease and certainly not something you can just ignore and hope it goes away. And you'll probably run into people who will tell you "Well, if you just ate this, or took this vitamin, or did this, you'd be all better!" Don't listen to them and don't let them discourage you.
The best thing to do is research as much as you can. Check out books at the library, read things on sites like www.CCFA.org. Don't take everything you hear from other's personal experiences as complete truth because as I mentioned before, this disease is different for everyone. What works for one, won't work for another, and not everyone will have the same experience.
Sorry for rambeling on so much and being a bit repetitive. Welcome again and keep us posted on how things are going! :)
Female, 23, Ulcerative colitis (pancolitis) since 1999; GERD; gastritis; osteopenia in femur head & lumbar spine from long term prednisone use...
Lexapro 10mg, Sulfasalizine 3000mg/day, Azasan 100mg