At-Home Treatment Options for Colitis
What is colitis?
Colitis is a health condition that involves inflammation of the large intestine (colon). The most common types of colitis include inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease), pseudomembranous colitis, and ischemic colitis. Colitis can be acute or chronic and ranges from mild to severe.
At-home treatment options
Several lifestyle changes can be implemented at home to reduce the symptoms of colitis, including diet changes, stress relief, and physical activity. These can be used in addition to conventional or alternative and complementary treatments.
Various diet changes can help relieve the symptoms of colitis. These changes allow the colon to rest when symptoms flare up. Dietary changes that may help reduce colitis symptoms include the following:
- Avoiding sources of fiber, such as raw vegetables, fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, and whole grains
- Reducing fat intake to prevent bulky stools
- Avoiding processed foods and foods high in animal protein, which can contribute to inflammation
- Avoiding other trigger foods, such as spicy foods or dairy
- Eating smaller meals throughout the day to help prevent diarrhea
- Limiting or avoiding alcohol
Stress can make many types of colitis worse. Stress-relieving activities, such as breathing exercises, massage, meditation, or yoga, can help calm the digestive system. If necessary, a counselor or psychologist can be consulted to help with stress management.
In addition to relieving stress, physical activity can also aid digestion. Moving the body can help normalize bowel function.
Smoking can worsen colitis. Quitting the habit of smoking improves digestive system health as well as overall health.
If colitis causes diarrhea, it’s important to drink plenty of water to maintain proper hydration. An electrolyte replacement drink may also be beneficial. Alcohol and caffeinated or carbonated beverages should be avoided as they can worsen colitis symptoms.
Bouts of diarrhea can lead to raw skin around the rectum. Using moist towelettes instead of toilet paper and applying petroleum jelly to the area can help. Sitting in a saltwater bath can also help soothe the area.