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Ulcerative Colitis Health Center

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Going to College With Ulcerative Colitis

Making the transition to college with ulcerative colitis can feel overwhelming at times. You're dealing with new demands of schoolwork and social life. On top of that, you're adjusting to a new living environment while managing a chronic illness.

If you’re living on campus, you may be sharing a dorm room and bathroom. And you’ll want to be careful about eating cafeteria food that triggers ulcerative colitis symptoms.

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Exercising When You Have a GI Disorder

Staying physically fit is a constant struggle for Stephanie Horgan, who, like millions of Americans with gastrointestinal disorders, has to plan her diet, her exercise routines, and her entire life around her condition. "I'm really active now, doing kickboxing, jogging, [indoor cycling] at the gym, and eating whatever I want," says the 26-year-old Chicago resident, who was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at age 18 and had three surgeries within a year. "But you never know when you're going to have...

Read the Exercising When You Have a GI Disorder article > >

Just because you have UC doesn't mean you can’t thrive in every facet of college life, however. Here are six practical strategies to help you work the system.

Get the Support You Need

  • Don't isolate yourself. Create a support network with caring friends who understand you have ulcerative colitis. They can help you out with notes from a missed class or just give you a shoulder to lean on.
  • Talk to your professors at the beginning of the semester and explain that you have UC. Be proactive about keeping them in the loop.
  • Set up a meeting at your college's office of students with disabilities. You may be able to get resources or services to help accommodate your needs, such as special housing or extra tutoring.
  • See if there are any ulcerative colitis or IBD support groups at your college. If not, the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), which has a chapter in every state, may be able to provide resources near your campus.
  • For more practical tips and advice on making a smooth transition, check out the college plan worksheet at the IBD U (IBD University) web site. It is designed to help students with UC navigate classes and campus life by working together with university personnel.

Be Prepared

  • If you're living on campus, talk to people at the housing office to find out if there's a dorm room with a private bathroom.
  • Carry extra underwear and clothes in your backpack just in case. Pack toilet paper, portable seat covers, or a small disinfectant spray so that you can make the restroom as comfortable as possible.
  • In class, choose a seat near the door so that you can leave quickly if you need to.
  • Bring a tape recorder to class. Then you won't miss anything if you need to step out to use the restroom.
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