You probably know someone who has it, even though patients rarely talk about it openly. After all, inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is not something most people choose to broadcast to the world.
IBD is an umbrella term for chronic disorders that involve inflammation of the digestive tract, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both can cause a variety of symptoms, like abdominal pain, diarrhea or blood in the stool.
Typically, these are diseases that begin in the second and third decade of life, making the adjustment to college even more challenging for students with the chronic affliction.
Managing symptoms can be hard for college students to deal with, especially when they’re also juggling their education, beginning internships or even starting families. After all, the very things that make adolescence and young adulthood so fast-paced and exciting are a challenge when you’re trying to deal with a disease known for its harsh symptoms and difficult tests.
IBD is lifelong. There is no cure — just treatment, management and monitoring. This means that the best approach to care is a holistic one. College students must navigate setting appointments with gastrointestinal specialists, identifying pharmacies and following through with blood tests and colonoscopies — all while balancing the stress of college and living on their own.
Research has shown the age of when a person is diagnosed is important. Patients who were older when diagnosed had a harder time adjusting.
The better the patient is at taking ownership of their disease and its treatment regimen, the better their quality of life after transition to adult care.