Whether you are newly diagnosed or have had UC for a while, it's never too late to ask your consultant questions if you don't know the answer. There are countless outlets on the internet giving advice about what to do (this being one of them), but your consultant knows you as an individual and your individual health and they should be your first port of call. Something I would suggest is to write everything down. Keep a diary of all your symptoms and how often you get them. Take a list of questions with you to your appointment because you can almost guarantee you will forget at least one thing.

1. What type of Ulcerative Colitis do I have?

There are 4 types of Ulcerative Colitis: Proctitis, Proctosigmoiditis, Distal and Pancolitis. They can all be controlled with different types of medication and doses depending on the severity and ability to gain remission.
As I found out myself very recently, 5 years after diagnosis, sometimes not all the facts are given to patients. Don't be afraid to ask your consultant for more information, it is what they are there for.

2. What tests do I need to have and how often?

You'll more than likely be told this, but if you don't, ask. I personally have routine blood tests and a routine colonoscopy coming up. Depending on whether you are able to gain remission or not, you will have to go to see you consultant for tests and follow up at least every 6 months. Colonoscopies are not as often, so don't worry!

3. What medication will I have to take and for how long? How do they work?

There are soooo many medications. Some of the more common ones used in the UK are:

- Aminosalicylates or 5-ASA
- Mesalazine
- Balsalazide
- Sulfasalazine
These are used to gain and maintain remission for mild to moderate, sometimes accompanied by Prednisone at first to gain remission.

- Corticosteroids
- Prednisone
- Hydrocortisone
These steroids are normally used in the short term as they can have a bad, lasting effect on your bones.They are likely to be used to get you in remission before starting a long term medication to maintain it. If you are prescribed these, it is advised you also take a Calcium suppliment for this reason. It is also thought that Corticosteroids can lead to vitamin D definiciency, so ask your consultant about this.

- Immunosuppressors
- Azathioprine
- Infliximab
- Vedolizumab
These are used if the previous medications do not work for you. If you are prescribed any Immunosuppressors, talk to your Consultant about side effects and about any addition suppliments that may be needed.

4. Do I need to see a Dietician?

Many people find that a change in diet can have a good effect on their symptoms. I would suggest that if a Dietician is offered to you, take it. Only you and your body know what is good for you, but a professional nutritionist would be a good start.

5. Will I be able to continue doing the activities I currently do?

As well as diet being a trigger, stress is also a reason why your symptoms may return. If you undertake any sports, hobbies or even work that are considered physically or mentally stressful, you may be advised to stop doing them or reduce the amount you do depending on the type and severity of your UC.

6. What should I do if my symptoms return or I get new symptoms?

This is a very important one. Many hospitals have a team of IBD nurses that are available for you to call if you need them. On saying that, not all of them make them readily available by not giving patients that information. If your hospital has IBD nurses, use them! They are a massive life line that I have used myself in the past. You can call them about anything to do with your UC, whether it be your symptoms returning, new symptoms or questions about your treatment. This question is also important as you need to know when to seek emergency care.

Published by Elle Quinn