Thursday, August 5, 2010

Awareness of Colitis

The effects of being diagnosed with then having to endure living with colitis should never be underestimated. Yet there are a large number of people who are also affected by colitis, namely family or friends that care for the sufferer. It can be challenging, both emotionally and physically caring for someone with colitis and having an understanding of what happens can be invaluable.

Colitis is a chronic illness of the large colon where inflammation can develop and create symptoms of severe abdominal pain, bleeding, diarrhoea, fatigue, weight loss, depression plus the side effects of the various medications that can be prescribed. Thankfully the symptoms are not always present, giving respite to the sufferer and their carer, yet even during these periods of remission there still has to be a watchful eye on how life is lived in order not to unintentionally provoke the disease from its benign slumber.

One of the key factors that can be forgotten for getting through a flare up is the necessity to have as much rest as can be possible. This means the sufferer has to take time off work, they have to in effect withdraw from the activities of daily life and that means they require assistance. On days that the sufferer may be feeling slightly better, there could be the temptation to undertake small jobs around the house or go outside though this should be avoided. Yes, there will always be things that require to be done, but it is for someone else to ensure that they are, in fact, done. Rest means rest by trying to eliminate as much physical movement as possible. Things like preparing food, running errands should be undertaken by a carer.

Everyday activities such as driving should be avoided and thus assistance will be required when getting to the doctor or hospital. Actually, when the symptoms grow in strength, all travel should be avoided. When symptoms are at their strongest, the sufferer will need to stay in bed for longer periods than usual but getting out of bed for a short while is worthwhile. This may require assistance as will perhaps dressing, bathing and walking. For the carer, it can be helpful to imagine that those living with colitis, and who have strong symptoms, are experiencing many of the challenges that old age also brings and to give assistance in the same way that you would an old person. This is particularly true in relation to the physical challenges faced when enduring a colitis flare up.

In addition, there has to be consideration to any side effects that may arise as a result of medication taken, such with the use of steriods. They can create psychological changes in the form of mood swings and depression and therefore the personality of the person that you know so well may subtlety change during the course of the flare up.

It is important to give as much emotional support to them and reassure them that whilst the flare up has happened, it will slowly regress and a path to health will not be far away. It is invaluable to help the sufferer to focus on what requires to be done to get through the worst of the flare up and give them reassurance that they do have adequate support when it matters through their challenge of living with colitis.