Flying with IBD

 

If you have IBD, you may be concerned about traveling long distances by plane. Even though you may be worried and feel that it’s impossible for you to travel, there are ways for you to prepare for long journeys.  

 

Medication

  • Make sure to bring an adequate amount of medication to last for the entire trip, as you don’t want to end up without any medication.  
  • Bring your prescription forms just in case you do run out of your medication, so you can get it refilled as soon as possible.  
  • Keep your medication close by, preferably in whatever bag you may be holding. Do not keep it in a checked bag if you are traveling- your luggage may get lost. 
  • Take over-the-counter medications with you to help manage milder symptoms. 

 

Documents

  • Keep some form of your medical history with you while traveling. 
  • Keep your doctor’s phone number saved in your phone for emergencies. 
  • Keep your insurance card with you at all times. 

 

 

Booking and Preparing  

  • When booking your flight, try and find a seat available in the aisle and close to a bathroom. 
  • Book a specific meal plan for your flight ahead of time, so you can eat on the plane. 
  • Bring snacks that are appropriate for your specific diet needs. It’s better to bring them from home than it is to buy them at the airport. 
  • Buy a water as soon as you arrive at the airport, so you don’t become dehydrated on the flight.  

 

 

Asking Questions  

  • See if you can find a map of the airport or ask an employee where all of the bathrooms are located. 
  • There are cards available that allow you to skip the line in the bathroom if you let the airport know ahead of time. 
  • Ask if you can upgrade your seat to a more comfortable area if possible. 

 

Being Safe 

  • Get all of your vaccinations ahead of time, especially if you are leaving the country. 
  • Don’t travel if you feel like you are getting sick. It could make your symptoms worse. 
  • Be careful with eating. Airport food is not always the freshest or the healthiest, and it could potentially harm your digestive system.  
  • Get travel insurance to cover your IBD problems if possible. Make sure that you are fully covered before flying.  

 

It is fairly easy to fly with IBD after you do it a few times.  Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask the employees’ questions if necessary. Don’t let yourself suffer in silence. Traveling is meant to be fun not to feel like torture.  

 


Talking to Your Teachers about IBD

Being a student with IBD can be ridiculously difficult sometimes.  I know, first hand, that schools and teachers just don’t get it.  However, you have to work with your parents to make school a little bit easier. 

 

The first thing that you should definitely do if you have been diagnosed with IBD is send out an email at the beginning of the year, explaining what your disease is and how it affects you.  If you’re in a flare, it isn’t going to help if your teachers and the school don’t understand what is happening.  They might just think that you have a stomach bug when you actually suffer from a debilitating disease.  

 

You might even want to set up a meeting with all of your teachers and your parents, so they fully understand everything that you go through.  Do not be shy about telling them what’s wrong because they will help you out more if they understand.  

 

Make it clear to your teachers that you don’t want them to treat strangely, especially in front of your peers.  This way, you won’t stick out to your classmates.  They won’t even know if you don’t want them to. 

 

One of the most important things is to try and get accommodations for your disease.  If you attend a public school, the school is required to follow these accommodations by law.  Even if you attend a private school, you can still talk to the staff and ask for accommodations.  These are especially helpful if you are in a flare, and you are finding it difficult to go to school or stay in school.  

 

The best thing to do is to just simply be open with your teachers and the school in general.  They won’t judge you for your disease.  If you reach out to them, they will most likely be accepting and helpful.  Don’t stay quiet if you are sick.  It isn’t your fault that you are having trouble in school, and if you tell them, they will know this.  

 

I hope that this post helped some students, who have a difficult time talking about their IBD.  I will have a more in-depth post up later about accommodations and the 504 Plan specifically.  

 


Getting Through School in a Flare

Getting through school is hard enough without having to deal with diseases such as Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s. Unfortunately, students suffering from IBD don’t have much choice about going to school. If your case is extremely severe, you may consider homeschooling as an option, but for most teens, staying in school with your peers is exceedingly important. In this post, I’ll discuss how to get through school when you are in a flare.

As someone who has struggled through a flare while remaining in school, I know that these tips can help immensely.

 

  1. You and your parents should talk to the school and your teachers immediately.

 

For the sake of your well-being, you and your parents should set up a meeting with your teachers as well as the head of the school (if possible) to inform them of your disease and your symptoms. You should also let them know what medications you currently take and what procedures you may have to undergo during a flare. You should tell them how this will affect you academically and ask for help and cooperation from the school. Talking to them in a meeting will help them understand your disease on a more personal level, and they will take your flare more seriously.

 

  1. Ask about a 504 Plan/Accommodations.

 

The next step after scheduling a meeting is to look into a 504 Plan or Accommodations. A 504 Plan can really help, especially in public schools, which are required to follow such a plan by law. Even in private institutions, however, accommodations or a 504 Plan may be accepted. These plans allow for a variety of accommodations, such as extra time on tests/assignments or being allowed to leave the room if necessary.

 

  1. Take care of your body.

 

After talking to the school and, hopefully, receiving accommodations for your IBD, you must try to help yourself by taking care of your body. One of the most critical components to treating IBD is sleep. As a teenager, it may seem impossible to go to bed early and sleep for a substantial amount of time, but doing so can change how you feel during the school day. If you try going to bed early, you don’t feel as tired as you would if you went to bed at a normal time. This is true for all people, but it is even more important for teens suffering from IBD.

 

  1. Eat a healthy diet.

 

Another difficult but essential task is to eat a healthy diet. Teens like to eat junk food, but it harms your body and makes it more difficult to focus on school. Try to eat the healthiest option at home and at school. Every time you eat, think about how the specific foods you are consuming will affect your IBD.

 

  1. Limit extracurricular activities.

 

Limiting activities is so challenging for teens. Most high school students wake up, go to school for eight hours, play sports or participate in some type of extracurricular activity for a few hours, go home, do homework, and then go to sleep. This a busy schedule to maintain, and it is impractical for a teenager with IBD. Limit extracurricular activities as much as possible when you are in a flare. You don’t want to exhaust your body and make your symptoms worse by participating in too many activities.

 

Going through school with IBD is tough, and you have to go about it with caution. You must have the support of your parents, your school, and your teachers during a flare. While seeking academic success, you should simply try your best and be careful not to hurt yourself. It is essential that you not strain yourself too much while going through a flare.

 

 


Dealing with Depression and Anxiety

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a painful and upsetting disease that can change how you live your life. The pain, bleeding, and other severe symptoms associated with IBD often lead to depression and anxiety. IBD can isolate you from the rest of the world, causing you to feel lonely and unheard. 

Recognizing the signs of depression and anxiety that may accompany IBD is essential for dealing with these feelings. Severe sadness, suicidal thoughts or actions, tiredness, loneliness, and a lack of desire to do anything at all usually indicate you are suffering from depression. If you feel you are nervous all the time, shaky, guilty, or suffer from panic or anxiety attacks, you are most likely suffering from anxiety. Since IBD and mental disorders go hand in hand, they need to be taken more seriously, especially among teenagers. 

Although it may sound difficult, one of the best ways of dealing with feelings of depression and anxiety is to talk to your parent(s) or guardian(s) about how you are feeling. Talking to a parent or guardian can help you work through the emotional pain, and they may be able to find professional help for you. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching your parent(s) or guardian(s), then you can try to get help on your own. The internet offers many forums for people with IBD where people ask for advice. These forums create a community among IBD patients, and it lets them feel less alone. Other people suffering from the same disease completely understand what you may be going through. For people in need of support, communicating with people who have had or are having the same experiences can be comforting. You might also consider talking to your close friends about your disease, letting them know how it makes you feel. In addition to your family, your friends provide a system of support for you. They will help ensure you never feel alone as you battle this illness. 

When dealing with anxiety, it is crucial that you find ways to calm yourself down.  I have found that simply drinking cold water and lying down for a few minutes to catch my breath can be highly effective at calming me down. Reading a book, watching a movie, or listening to music can also help. Talking to others is another great option. You might also consider engaging in hobbies, which tend to preoccupy the mind and help you not feel as on edge about everything. Becoming happier is easier said than done, but finding happiness is possible. Find something to look forward to every single day, even if it’s as simple as drinking your favorite coffee in the morning. Always look for the good that happens in a day, and remember to keep fighting no matter how hard it may be. 

The most critical thing to remember is that if you really think something is wrong and you could potentially be a danger to yourself or to someone else, please seek professional help. You are not alone, and there are people out there who would love to help you. Do not wait to get help if you feel you are suffering from depression or anxiety as a result of your IBD. 

This article that I found is very helpful for individuals suffering from depression and IBD as it gives some simple tips on how to manage both your mental health and physical health. I also found some research on the prevalence of anxiety and depression in IBD patients, which gave me a lot of insight into just how common it is to suffer from mental health problems along with IBD. 

 

 


Diet or Nutritional Supplements

Along with taking medication, many Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) patients either adopt specific diets or take nutritional supplements to help manage their symptoms. Going on a diet or taking nutritional supplements can both help with IBD, so it’s difficult to choose whether one or the other is best.  The best option is to do both.

 

Going on a diet can seem daunting, especially when looking at long lists of foods you can no longer eat. Diets can, however, help manage your IBD alongside medication.  Eliminating foods that cause you to feel sick or in pain, such as gluten or sugar, will reduce symptoms and make your life easier. On the other hand, removing too many foods from your diet can seem complicated.  One dieting strategy is to try a diet for a week or two just to see whether it affects your symptoms at all. If you find that your symptoms have improved by dieting, you should stick with it.

 

Taking nutritional supplements, such as vitamins or probiotics, is also crucial when dealing with painful symptoms.  Supplements can improve your overall gut health and digestion, and they can give you more energy, which IBD patients tend to lack. Taking supplements in addition to medication can have a serious and positive impact on your day-to-day life.

 

Going on a diet and taking nutritional supplements alongside medication can, in some cases, make a person with IBD seem to forget that he or she has a disease at all due to reduced symptoms. If you aren’t comfortable going on a strict diet, then you can just take supplements; likewise, if you aren’t comfortable with taking supplements, you can try a variety of diets. Many people still suffer from IBD symptoms even while taking medication, which shows that medication may not be doing enough for them. If you are one of those people, you should seriously consider going on a diet or taking nutritional supplements as an added strategy to ease your symptoms. While dieting and taking supplements together represents the best option, even trying just one or the other could help you greatly.


Handling a School Workload

The workload in high school is often difficult to handle.  But when you have a chronic disease, that workload can feel almost impossible to keep up with. You may feel too tired to stay up to complete your homework or to even stay awake in class. These issues can be detrimental to your happiness and your GPA. However, by seeking accommodations and by following the tips below, your illness can have less or even no impact on your school workload.

 

Tip #1: Learn about your assignments early.

 

If you truly want to be successful in school, you will need to talk to your teachers and ask them about upcoming assignments before they are even assigned.  Tell your teachers about your situation and explain how knowing about assignments early will help you perform better in their classes. If you receive your assignments early on, you should be able to have plenty of time to complete them.

 

Tip #2: Find out what your best studying times are.

 

Some people are morning people, and some are night owls. Others are somewhere in between. You need to find out when you are the most alert and most capable of working efficiently. If you are your best early in the morning, then you will have to wake up early and start working. If you’re most efficient at night, then you’ll have to stay up late to complete assignments. You won’t be able to work properly if you are trying to work when you are tired or not feeling attentive.

 

Tip #3: Stay on top of deadlines.

 

If your teacher gives you a deadline, write it down immediately. Start working in little blocks of time so you don’t end up having to complete the entire assignment at once. It will save you from experiencing excess stress.

 

Tip #4: Keep organized.

 

When you have IBD, your symptoms can make your life feel hectic.  You don’t want your school work to feel hectic as well. Try getting binders for each class, color-coding your notes, getting a planner- whatever you need to do to feel organized and ready to work.

 

Tip #5: Tell your teachers about how you’re feeling.

 

If you have accommodations, you shouldn’t need to talk to your teachers, but if you don’t have accommodations, you should definitely tell your teachers about your disease and ask them if they can help you feel less stressed. They should be understanding of your situation considering you have a painful disease preventing you from completing work. They could potentially adjust assignments for you so you don’t feel overwhelmed by the workload.

 

These 5 tips can both lower your stress level and save your GPA. Maintaining a high school workload while suffering from IBD can be a challenge, but it can be done. You just have to make sure you apply yourself correctly and ask for help if necessary.

 

 

 


Explaining Ulcerative Colitis to Your Friends

Explaining to your friends what ulcerative colitis (UC) is, why you have it, and how it affects you can be difficult. UC can make you want to hide from everyone in the world, but that isn’t a realistic solution. At some point, you will have to open up to people about your disease. Doing so won’t be easy, but it definitely isn’t as hard as you think. 

The first people you may want to inform are your closest friends. You don’t want to have to hide your disease from the people that you love and trust the most. Because they are your closest friends, they will most likely be understanding and caring about the issue. They won’t bother you about it unnecessarily, and instead they will try to keep it in mind and make sure you are feeling okay. The more open and honest you are, the more easily they will comprehend your disease and the more likely they’ll be empathetic.  

In the case of telling friends that are not extremely close to you, the best course is often to tell them what you suffer from without going into too much detail. You can tell them what UC is and what the major problems are, but you don’t have to tell them everything if you are not comfortable doing so. If they ask you about your experience, be honest, but don’t feel like you have to open up completely. You should never feel obligated to tell someone about your UC if you don’t want to. 

When dealing with acquaintances, you should probably be more vague and general. Acquaintances don’t really need to know much about your UC if they don’t know you that well, and you probably don’t want to tell them much. Personally, I have always preferred to use the terms “stomach thing” or “autoimmune thing” to describe it to these people. When you say something like that, people tend to understand you don’t really want to go into detail. 

These tips may make explaining UC sound easy, but talking about your experiences with this disease is certainly not easy by any means. I do hope, however, that these tips can get you started on opening up to people. UC probably feels a little embarrassing to you, but others don’t tend to view it that way. They want to help and to understand you better. Most people will not judge you for having a disease you cannot control. Try your best to be honest, but if you aren’t comfortable, do not feel forced to say more than what’s necessary.