Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an unpredictable and erratic disease. One of the hardest parts of living with UC is never knowing when you’ll have a flare-up. As a result, it can be difficult to make plans outside your home with relatives or family. But although UC may affect your daily routine, it doesn’t have to control you. You can live a normal, active life.
With a little preparation, you can feel comfortable about venturing out. For example, if you’re at a store, a restaurant, or other public place, it’ll help to know the location of the nearest restrooms in case you have a flare-up.
In addition, you can ease worries and prevent the embarrassment of a flare-up in public by always carrying essential emergency supplies with you. Here are six important items to keep in your bag if you have ulcerative colitis:
1. A change of clothes
While knowing the location of public restrooms can help you manage urgent bowel movements and frequent diarrhea, a sudden attack increases the likelihood of an accident. Sometimes, you may not find a restroom in time. Don’t let this possibility interrupt your life. To feel more comfortable outside your home, always carry a backup pair of pants and underwear in your emergency bag.
2. Anti-diarrheal medication
Talk to your doctor to see if it’s safe to combine an anti-diarrheal medication with your prescription medication. If so, keep a supply of this medication with your emergency supplies. Take anti-diarrheal medications as directed. These medications slow intestinal contractions in order to stop diarrhea, but you shouldn’t take an anti-diarrheal as maintenance therapy.
3. Pain relievers
Take an over-the-counter pain reliever to stop mild pain associated with UC. Talk to your doctor about safe medications. Your doctor may suggest acetaminophen (Tylenol), but not other types of pain relievers. Medicines like ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen sodium, and diclofenac sodium may worsen the severity of a flare-up.
4. Cleansing wipes and/or toilet paper
In the event that you have an accident and need to change your pants or undergarments, pack moist cleansing wipes and toilet paper in your emergency bag. Since you can’t bathe or shower after an accident occurs outside your home, use moist wipes to alleviate odors.
Toilet paper in your emergency bag also comes in handy. You may find yourself in a restroom that doesn’t have toilet paper.
5. Sanitizing wipes
Because a flare-up can happen unexpectedly, you may have limited bathroom choices. And some restrooms may have an empty supply of hand soap. You need to prepare for every possible scenario, so pack alcohol-based hand-sanitizing gel or wipes in your emergency bag. Washing your hands with soap and water is best for removing bacteria and germs. Hand-sanitizing gels and wipes are the next best thing in the absence of soap and water.
6. Restroom access card
Finding a public restroom can be challenging. Some public places don’t offer public restrooms, or they only give restroom privileges to paying customers. This can pose a problem when you need immediate access to a restroom. To avoid an accident, talk to your doctor about getting a restroom access card. According to The Restroom Access Act, also known as Ally’s Law, retail stores that don’t provide public restrooms must give people with chronic conditions access to employee-only restrooms in an emergency. This law, which has been passed in many states, also gives pregnant women access to restricted bathrooms.
UC is a chronic condition that requires ongoing treatment, but the prognosis is positive with the appropriate therapy. Keeping these essential items in your emergency bag can help you cope with the disease. It’s also important to have a conversation with your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve or worsen with therapy.