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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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Learn More About Life with IBD
For more information about the services offered to IBD patients at UPMC, visit the UPMC Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .
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