Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to two chronic diseases that cause inflammation
of the intestines: ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory disease of the large intestine,
or colon. In ulcerative colitis, the inner lining of the intestine becomes swollen
and develops sores (ulcers). Ulcerative colitis is often the most severe in the rectal
Crohn's disease can involve any part of the digestive tract. It
causes inflammation that extends much deeper into the layers of the intestinal wall
and generally affects the entire bowel wall.
The most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are diarrhea
and abdominal pain. Diarrhea can range from mild to severe, requiring frequent trips
to the bathroom. Persistent diarrhea can lead to weight loss, poor growth, dehydration,
and malnutrition. Also, continual loss of small amounts of blood in the stool can
lead to anemia.
Students with IBD may:
need to use the bathroom frequently throughout the day
require seating closest to the bathroom or door
need to carry a water bottle to prevent dehydration
need to eat frequent small snacks
feel tired throughout the day
need to go to the school nurse for medicine, medical attention, or to change clothes
need extra time for class assignments and homework
need to miss school or come in late due to flare-ups and doctor appointments
feel embarrassed about their symptoms
Certain foods can trigger IBD symptoms. It's important for students with IBD to
eat healthy foods and drink plenty of fluids. Most students with IBD know what they
can and should not eat.
What Teachers Can Do
Students may miss a lot of class time for bathroom breaks or school days due to
flare ups. Make sure they have a bathroom or hallway pass to use at will, and allow
for extra time for assignments or assign make-up work to be completed at home.
Students with IBD can participate in physical education and other activities, but
should be allowed to opt out if they are not feeling well.
Stress can play a part in IBD. Understanding your students' symptoms, diet, and
concerns can help.