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Teens and Young Adults with IBD


Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

Heading off to college can be scary for any young adult, but for teens with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, it can be even more difficult.

You may wonder: What should I tell my roommate? Should I change my diet?

Laci Altman, student researcher in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition at UPMC, and a member of the student panel at the IBD Springboard Program says teens and young adults with IBD face many common concerns.

How Teens and Young Adults with IBD Can Cope

What are some of the most common worries for teens with IBD heading off to college?

For most teens, the biggest concerns are dealing with a roommate, diet restrictions, and accommodations while at school. While these are things that can be scary for any new college student, teens with IBD face even more stress. But with a little help, these concerns are all very manageable.

To register for this free IBD Springboard Program, contact Cheriese Williams at 412-802-6696 or williamscl3@upmc.edu.

Should I talk about my IBD with my roommate?

Overall you want to make sure you are doing everything you can to make yourself feel comfortable while at school. Whether you want to talk to your roommate about your IBD, is really up to you and will depend on how open you are about your condition.

However, remember that you are at college to have a good experience, and you deserve respect. Being open and honest with your friends and roommate is always a good idea.

What type of diet should I follow while away at school?

While there is not set diet for someone with IBD, you have probably figured out which foods trigger your IBD symptoms.

Keep that in mind, as you plan your diet. Whether you have a meal plan or are able to cook and prepare your own meals, you will want to stick to foods that you know your body can handle. You may also want to research the restaurant options close by and speak to nutrition services so you are aware of all of your options.

RELATED: Comparing 3 Common Digestive Disorders

How do I manage friendships and talking about this disease with others?

While this can be difficult, it really depends on how much information you are comfortable sharing. It is important to remember that your disease should not define who you are and should not control your friendships.

It is also important to remember that the only way to raise awareness and help others is to share what you are going through. A strong support system is imperative.

Should I be registered with the disability center at my school?

Most schools have a disability resource center that is open to all students. It is a good idea to meet with them and discuss any concerns that you are having. With their help, you can learn about all of the accommodations that might be available to you. Again, only share as much as you are comfortable with but you should seek help if needed.

RELATED: Ways to Stay Healthy in College

Learn More About Life with IBD

As you make this transition, remember it is OK to ask for help. Join us for a free springtime prep course about what to expect during college and early employment, including important information about transitioning from pediatric to adult gastrointestinal care and what to anticipate going forward.

digestive disorders

Digestive Disorders

The Digestive Disorders Center (DDC) is a convenient point of access to the full range of digestive health care services available at UPMC. Our team has expertise in treatments for inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, as well as swallowing disorders, gastrointestinal cancer, and liver, pancreatic, and biliary diseases. Read More