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How To Decide When The Hospital is Needed For UC

When you live with a chronic illness like ulcerative colitis, it can be difficult to know what exactly warrants a trip to the emergency room or hospital. I know going to the hospital is probably the last place you want to be but I also know most of you reading this do take your health very seriously and therefore, want to do the right thing.

Reach out to the doctor for tests and a management plan

My first suggestion is to reach out to your doctor or care team. Depending on what you are experiencing, hopefully, he/she can direct you.

Because ulcerative colitis (UC) is an invisible illness, it can be hard to tell just how badly you are doing. Sure you know how you are feeling on the outside but it is impossible to know sometimes what is truly going on inside our bodies. This is where things like blood work, imaging tests, and scopes are helpful. If you feel like something is off with your body, I highly encourage you to discuss it with your GI and formulate a plan of how to check to see what is going on.

Deciding to go to the emergency room

If you feel too sick to even get yourself to a place for blood work or any kind of test, I recommend the ER. I despise the emergency room myself so I can understand if you are rolling your eyes at me right now. However, it is my strong opinion that if you are feeling too ill to do some of the necessary tests to gauge how your disease is progressing, you need to be seen as soon as possible. If your care team can coordinate with the ER, that would be ideal, but I know we don’t live in a perfect world. Even if you are on your own there, which I know is far from easy, hopefully, the ER doctors and staff will be able to do blood work and send you for some kind of imaging test. Plus, maybe give you some fluids and possibly something to help with symptom management. Once you have the results from those tests, it can help you to better assess where the best place for you is.

For example, if you have a doctor who you can reach out to while in the emergency room or afterward, letting them know what was found in the ER can help them direct you. Maybe you just need a short course of steroids to help some of the symptoms and allow you to come into the office. Or, maybe something more serious was found during your visit to the ER and they would like to admit you.

I know when I need to go to the ER, I am not able to drive over an hour to get to the hospital my doctor works at. So, I go to a local one and allow them to assess me when needed. I know a lot of you also have GI’s who aren’t close to your home, but who are the best for treating inflammatory bowel disease (like ulcerative colitis.) Depending on what hospital you are in and where your GI is located, you will at least be more informed when discussing the next steps with your doctor.

Ulcerative colitis cannot be ignored

I know how difficult it is to make the decision to be seen in the ER or go to the hospital to be admitted. I also know there is this fear of once you go in, you never know when you may get home again. Plus, the unknowns of how doctors and nurses will treat you is a scary reality for those who suffer from any chronic illness. However, the important thing to remember is that you don’t want anything to get worse. UC is not something that can be ignored and even though I don’t know you personally, I imagine you are not a complainer or someone who just wants attention. SO, if you feel something is off with your body, there probably is.

Do you have any tips for your fellow UC sufferers on how to decide when they need to go to the hospital or ER? I know everyone is different but the more we share, the more others realize they aren’t alone as well.

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