Ulcerative Colitis Plus COVID: 2 Is Not Better Than 1

Last updated: January 2023

More than 2 and a half years into the pandemic, I was starting to think I would somehow avoid getting COVID-19. I've always been an introverted homebody, and I thought this might be the time that it really paid off for me. A few weeks ago, when I tested positive, I found out I was sadly mistaken.

I apparently didn't have some rare trait that made me immune, but a girl could hope. Reality hit hard as my COVID infection began, bringing with it serious fatigue, sore muscles, and an aching throat.

Unfortunately, it also brought along worsening UC symptoms.

Getting COVID as someone with UC

Despite the fact that I'm fully vaccinated and boosted, seeing that positive test result left me feeling worried. It's hard to describe the pit-in-your-stomach feeling unless you've seen that positive test result yourself.

I've always taken COVID seriously, and I knew that having ulcerative colitis (and recently taking steroids to manage my flare) could make my experience of COVID that much worse. There was also just the general anxiety about getting this virus that had shut down our world and changed our lives not so long ago.

I tried to stay as optimistic as possible and made sure to do all the little things I could to take care of myself, like drinking extra water, taking it easy during the day, and getting enough sleep at night.

Fatigue, muscle aches, and other symptoms

Even with all my efforts, having COVID made for a rough week. I seemed to have a new symptom on showcase each day. First, it was fatigue. As most of us with chronic medical conditions can attest, fatigue is no stranger. But this COVID fatigue was worse than anything I had experienced before.

Next came a horribly sore throat – strep-throat-level sore. Then I experienced fever and muscle aches for a couple of days. Finally, my sense of taste largely disappeared. On and on it went. Through all of this, the one thing that remained constant was the diarrhea.

Worried COVID might trigger a UC flare

After having just recovered from a colitis flare-up, I was yet again having diarrhea, some minor bleeding, and stomach aches. The last thing I wanted was for COVID to trigger another UC flare (and right as I was preparing to start a new job). Being in a new city, I hadn't yet established a new gastroenterologist, so the timing couldn't have been worse. The added stress of knowing how inopportune this timing was only made matters worse.

With the help of extra meds and probiotics, I seem to have avoided a full-blown flare. (Fingers crossed!) However, the COVID and UC combo was no walk in the park, and it gave me a new sense of urgency about protecting myself from COVID going forward.

No one wants worsened UC symptoms

Having avoided it for so long, I had started to feel a bit too invincible. Now that I'm recovering, I have a newfound empathy for those who experienced worsening UC symptoms while also trying to fight off COVID, and I hope that those lucky few who have managed to avoid COVID continue to do so in this latest wave! COVID-19 and ulcerative colitis is definitely 1 situation where 2 is not better than 1!

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