Ulcerative colitis is a condition in which sores or ulcers form in the colon and rectum. This happens due to inflammation as a consequence of a dysregulated immune system, which may attack healthy tissue in the gut.
With ulcerative colitis, there may be times when you experience abdominal pain, bleeding and pus in the bowels, diarrhea, and an urgency to defecate, and there may be other times when no symptoms are present.
Symptoms occur during flare-ups. These can sometimes be prevented with the help of a few lifestyle changes and medications. However, one of the risk factors for flare-ups is alcohol.
Have you ever wondered if an occasional drink could trigger a flare-up? Below, we asked our experts at Carolina Digestive Health Associates to explain how alcohol impacts ulcerative colitis.
Ulcerative colitis is a condition caused by inflammation in the colon and rectum. Unfortunately, alcohol is known as a trigger for inflammation. Alcohol can also damage the lining of the intestines, the same lining damaged by ulcerative colitis.
However, it may not always be the alcohol that triggers the flare-ups. Some studies suggest that common additives found in alcoholic drinks, such as sulfur and sulfate, may also contribute to the worsening of symptoms. Sulfur-free and sulfate-free drinks usually have a higher concentration of alcohol, as additives are not needed to preserve these drinks.
Not everyone has the same triggers, and although drinking alcohol regularly isn’t something anyone should do, the occasional drink could be fine if you can tolerate it.
The best way to find out is to keep track of your symptoms. Each time you experience a symptom, write down everything you ate and drank before the flare-up.
Medications commonly prescribed for ulcerative colitis include aminosalicylates, corticosteroids, and immunomodulators.
Unfortunately, since all medications for ulcerative colitis either suppress your immune system or suppress the inflammatory reaction, combining it with alcohol is a bad idea. Alcohol also suppresses the immune system and causes inflammation, which is what the medications are fighting against.
In addition, combing alcohol with corticosteroids can worsen its side effects.
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic and progressive disease, which means it can worsen with time. Fortunately, under the right guidance, you can increase your chances of putting it in remission.
Our experts have decades of experience treating ulcerative colitis. They’ve seen the progression of the disease in many patients and are aware of what can make ulcerative worse or better with time.
If you’re looking for expert advice on how to manage colitis, contact us to schedule an appointment.