Going to College With Ulcerative Colitis
Take Charge of Your Health Care
Before college, your pediatrician or a parent probably helped you manage medical needs. Now it's time to take charge of your health care:
- If you're attending college in a new area, line up recommendations for a local gastroenterologist and send your medical records to the specialist you choose.
- Know your medical history, symptoms, and medications so that you can describe them to your new doctor.
- Schedule regular check-ups or colonoscopies, if needed, when it’s not crunch time.
- Know how to get a prescription from your doctor and when your prescriptions expire. Know where to get a refill and don't wait until the last minute to get a medication you need.
- Get to know your student health services center and find out what forms you should fill out. For example, medical history forms list your medications and gastrointestinal doc's contact info. Then if you have a flare-up, your medical background will be on hand.
- Know your health insurance options.
Keys to Eating Well
Living with ulcerative colitis means you need to pay attention to what you eat. Here are some strategies to help you stay focused on staying healthy throughout the semester, even during crunch times like exams:
- If you’ll be living in a dorm, pick a flexible meal plan so you can avoid any problem foods. The dining hall manager may be able to help you find substitutes or healthy alternatives.
- Talk to a dietitian to develop a diet that will be healthy and convenient.
- Stay alert to foods that you know don't agree with your digestive tract. Ask or check the label if you're not sure about the ingredients.
- Plan ahead so you don't skip meals and get sidelined. Pack your own snacks to stash in your bag.
- Remember to drink water throughout the day so you don't get dehydrated.
Listen to Your Body's Cues
When you're in a new environment, especially if you're feeling healthy and good, you might start to think you're invincible and don't need to take medications. But you'd be wrong.
- Stay on top of treatment. Use a daily pillbox to keep track of your meds. Skipping doses of medication can bring on a flare-up. By taking medications as directed and being proactive, you are the one in control of your disease and not vice versa.
- Call your doctor at the first sign of symptoms. You know better than anyone else when your body is telling you something's wrong. Getting treatment for a flare-up right away can stop it from getting worse and keep you from having to miss a lot of school.
- Don't wait until you're feeling down to seek help. If you're starting to feel stressed out, seek the advice of a counselor or therapist.