Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory disease of the large intestine, or colon. In ulcerative colitis, the inner lining of the intestine gets swollen and develops sores (ulcers). Ulcerative colitis is often the most severe in the rectal area.
Crohn's disease can involve any part of the digestive tract. It causes inflammation that extends much deeper into the layers and generally affects the entire bowel wall.
The most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are diarrhea and belly 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, continued loss of blood in poop can lead to anemia (too few red blood cells).
Students with IBD may:
need to use the bathroom often throughout the day
need to sit close 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 classwork and homework
need to miss school or come in late due to flare-ups and doctor visits
feel embarrassed about their symptoms
Some kinds of foods can trigger IBD symptoms. It's important for students with IBD to eat healthy foods and drink plenty of liquids. 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. Give extra time for assignments or assign make-up work to be done 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, so help your students find ways to manage stress in positive ways. Supporting you students with IBD and understanding their symptoms and concerns can help them succeed in school.