For teenagers and young adults with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) who recently went to college for the first time, the prospect of managing their health without help from their parents or caregivers can be intimidating. To feel more in control of the situation, it may help to make a list of potential concerns your soon-to-be freshman may have about living at school, and then work with him or her to find ways to solve them.
This way, if IBD issues do arise, there will be an established action plan to handle them. Other great resources for young adults going off to college include, IBUD.org and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation Campus Connection. Some things to consider:
Will being at college affect his or her health insurance plan? If so, how?
Who will the child call in a medical emergency?
Can he or she eat the food in the cafeteria? If not where can safe foods be found?
Is there a gastroenterologist near the college?
Does the school have Disability Services department or an office of Student Affairs? You may wish to contact them to determine the school’s medical leave of absence policy in case the situation arises.
Young adults who will be traveling or living away from home for the first time with IBD may want to consult this eBook with more information on the subject.
“Planning ahead for college when you have IBD is helpful, but there’s far more to managing the condition at college than getting to know a new doctor or knowing what foods to avoid in the dining halls,” Michael Docktor of Boston Children's Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center. “It means taking the responsibility of staying on top of one’s medication, exercise and normal sleep routines, all of which can be tough when you are first experiencing campus life and a shift in routine with less structure. But college students living with IBD need to go the extra mile to maintain these routines and always try to put their health first to avoid flare-ups or complications. With education, communication and anticipation, potential roadblocks can be avoided, making sure your college experience is about more than attending school with IBD.”
For more information on how Boston Children’s treats children with IBD, or to speak with one of our IBD specialists, please call us at 617-355-2962 or visit the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center website.