Posted 8/5/2011 9:40 AM (GMT -7)
Hello – I've had ulcerative colitis for ten or so years, and while it really hasn't been bad compared to some, new awareness and concerns have prompted me to seek out an IBD community. You guys look like an active and helpful lot :) so I'm pleased to be joining.
I've always had a screwy gastrointestinal system, with bad gas since I was a kid. At 14 I began seeing blood and mucus in my stool, and a colonoscopy confirmed that I had ulcerative proctitis. Mesalamine/asacol pretty much brought this under control, with only occasional and mild flare-ups, although bad gas and constipation did persist.
I am 24 now, and some recent developments have led me to worry a little:
- In the past six months I've seen some new gastrointestinal (I think) symptoms: abdominal and lower chest aching/discomfort, heartburn, and worsening indigestion (burping soon after eating... I can even feel a little fluid sometimes). I'm unsure how related these are to the colitis, or if I should worry. Has anyone else with colitis had upper GI issues?
- A colonscopy last month (my first since the initial one) revealed that (although there were no active ulcers... just signs of scarring) the colitis had at some point spread throughout my entire colon.
- Just a few weeks after the colonoscopy -- and those were some stressful weeks, worrying about the spread to pancolitis and the increased cancer risk associated with it -- I am having my first flare-up in six years. Still very mild compared to some, I know -- a little diarrhea, a little blood, abdominal discomfort -- but I'm scared about the direction of this trend.
Part of what's been swirling around in my mind is: Why all this new stuff? Why the weird new symptoms? When did pan colitis develop? Is the flare-up due just to stress, or maybe the colonoscopy itself, or other things too?
In general these are all the dietary/chemical/lifestyle changes that I've been wondering about:
- A few years ago I started drinking both coffee and alcohol. The latter had no apparent effect on my guts, but coffee has always had a definite laxative effect. That's been desirable, however, because it means I'll have a bowel movement after my morning coffee and then I don't have to worry again. I understand this is a common effect of coffee on anyone, though I'd be interested to know if it's substantially different with others in the UC community, and whether anyone thinks it's something I should avoid.
- A year and a half ago I moved to China to work as an English teacher for a year. Everyone smokes there, so I figured (stupid, stupid, stupid) that I'd join the fun for awhile – not heavily, just two or three a day. Interestingly, that also had a laxative effect (anyone else had this experience?), even more reliably than coffee, but after six months I decided it was probably a bad idea and stopped almost completely, except for just a couple times over the year since then. It was three months after I quit that I first started noticing little weird abdominal feelings, and my current flare-up is coming almost a year after quitting. Do you think there's a link? I know now (I didn't before) that smoking is sometimes used as a UC treatment, and that cessation can lead to the return of symptoms – and also that sometimes people who have used tobacco will get UC upon cessation. But is there anyone who has already had their colitis treated and under control, started smoking, then quit and noticed new or returning symptoms? I know it's a moot point -- I have no intention of going back to smoking -- but it's still something I'd like to figure out.
- In the month or so before my current flare-up, I began taking several kinds of over-the-counter pills. For gas: simethicone, beano, acidophilus. For heartburn: Tums. For cancer risk reduction: fish oil, multivitamins, calcium. I wonder if this has had any role.
I'm grateful my UC experience has been so relatively mild, and my heart goes out to those of you who have suffered. It's an unpredictable disease but I'd like to put my puzzle together as much as I can.
24 yr old male
2001: diagnosed with ulcerative proctitis, put on mesalamine, condition pretty much under control
2011: 10-yr colonoscopy, diagnosed with pancolitis, first flare-up after years of remission