Living with ulcerative colitis (UC) isn’t easy. And if you have this chronic disease, you know that talking about it with friends and family members can lead to awkward and sometimes embarrassing conversations.
We asked people who are living with UC to share the most annoying or irritating things people they know have said about their condition. Here’s a sampling of what those people said — and what they could’ve said instead.
UC affects everyone in different ways. Telling your friend they don’t look sick can make them feel like you’re dismissing their disease. But asking how they’re doing shows that you care.
Having UC is nothing like having a stomach bug. UC is a long-term, chronic disease. Because of this, symptoms and flare-ups won’t just pass or end (no matter how many bananas they eat).
Although the exact cause of UC isn't known, it isn’t something that’s spread from one person to another. UC occurs when the lining of the colon and the rectum become inflamed. This triggers abdominal pain, bloody stools, and diarrhea.
UC is sometimes confused for Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or inflammatory bowel disease, but these are all different disorders. Doing your own research about UC will help you gain insight about your friend’s condition.
Grabbing a bite to eat is easier said than done for someone with UC. While you may think that inviting your friend out to lunch is a nice gesture, it may end up just causing more stress. Asking what, where, and when your friend would like to meet puts them in control.
Even if your friend showed no outward signs or symptoms yesterday, they may be stuck in bed today. And while you may not be able to provide any relief to your friend, they’ll appreciate knowing that you’re there for them.
Weight loss related to UC is often triggered by severe flare-ups. Your friend may be dealing with a loss of appetite, or they may be scared that eating a particular food will make their symptoms worse. In severe cases, this can lead to malnutrition. The point is their weight loss may be connected to their disorder and not something they’ll want to highlight.
Car trips, plane rides, and any other type of travel can be challenging for someone with UC. Be a supportive friend and know where the closest bathroom is at all times.
Planning ahead is key. If you’re going on a road trip, know the exact pit stop locations. If you’re traveling by air, locate your gate and airport restrooms ahead of time. While it may make the overall trip a little longer, it’ll also make the time with your friend well spent.
There’s no one cure-all, magic diet for UC. Finding out what a person with UC can and cannot eat is a period of trial and error. Even so, one “safe” food may eventually trigger a flare-up. In general, it’s best to avoid talking about your friend’s eating habits, food preferences, or diet. If they want to talk about food, they’ll bring it up.
Comparing any disorder, disease, or condition to another isn’t helpful to anyone. Be mindful that UC is a unique disorder.
Are you or a loved one dealing with UC? Get in touch with Healthline’s Facebook community.