New member -- how do college students manage???

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New Member

Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 5/25/2010 7:29 PM (GMT -7)   
Hello everyone.....

I just discovered this forum today after looking for updated info on Crohn's. You can see my signature that I was diagnosed in 1988, have had two children, and had numerous flares and am currently in remission. I've taken prednisone, sulfasalazine, and most recently Entercort. But overall I have to say that I've had a relatively mild case in that I've never had any surgeries.

However, today my 19-year-old son was diagnosed with Crohn's after I suspected it for some time.... He was a freshman in college this past year and every time he came home he looked like he had lost weight.... and we noticed that he often had diarrhea when home on visits. He always said he was fine.... but then I really pressed him about it and he finally admitted how often he was having diarrhea. Once he got home from the spring semester in early May, I started with appointments, blood work, and a visit to my GI doc. He had an endoscopy and colonoscopy today, and while the bad news is he has Crohn's, it is thankfully limited to just the ileum at this time.

I am hopeful he will have a relatively mild case since mine over the years has been, but I know there are no guarantees.

He lives in a dorm on campus and eats in the cafeteria, and will do so again next year. I would like to hear from other parents and/or students in college as to how they manage their Crohn's. What types of foods/drinks/snacks do you keep in your dorm that have helped you most???

I'm waiting to hear from the GI doc for a follow-up appointment in a week or so, but I'm thinking my son needs to meet with a nutritionist: He wanted to eat at Wendy's on the way home! I've been telling him that he'll have to change his way of eating, but he hasn't been open to it.

Any advice would be most appreciated....
Dx'd with Crohn's in 1988 at age of 26 with lesions in stomach, ileum and colon. Took prednisone for years, including during pregnancies for my two children, DS-19 and DD-15. Flares and remissions over the past 22 years, but relatively mild overall. No surgeries...just managed with meds and diet.

Now DS-19 just Dx'd with crohn's in ileum after losing 37 lbs his freshman year in college. :(

Aimee =)
Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2004
Total Posts : 1020
   Posted 5/25/2010 7:56 PM (GMT -7)   
To be honest, I've never changed the way I eat. Not all people with Crohns have to. If he is fine eating Wendy's, let him eat Wendy's IMO.

Before my surgery, when I had a lot of narrowing, I steered clear of popcorn, nuts, and fresh veggies/fruits. i ate anything and everything else. I tried a more limited diet and saw no difference. My GI told me to just eat whatever went down okay and continue living as close to normal as possible.

I had a nutritionist visit me when I was hospitalized once and she gave me a list of foods that might be safe during flares but told me that with Crohns, everybody is different and to eat what seems okay. Maybe she just didn't know what to do with me... but I got nothing out of it =)

Now - there is something to be said for eating healthy when your body is fighting a disease on a regular basis... but it's not something I'm willing to do for every meal ;)

I'm so sorry your DS is facing Crohns as well =(

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 794
   Posted 5/26/2010 12:54 AM (GMT -7)   
I am so sorry about your son and I haven't got any answers but I would be interested to see the responses you get as my son(hopefully) will be off to uni next year(which is a whole new set of worries) He too is not prepared to change his way of eating although to a degree he is eating better since he came off enteral nutrition. I guess that the more weight they need to gain the more 'typically bad' food they need to consume(in relation to most people) High fat/calories etc.
At the end of the day you can only suggest/advise and hope they act on some of it-I have found that son is more likely to do something if the info has come from the consultant or IBD nurse rather than me!

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 61
   Posted 5/26/2010 6:26 AM (GMT -7)   
Sorry to hear about your son. I had mild crohns when I was doing my undergrad. At that time I was still able to eat what I wanted and have alcohol. However, near the end of my 5 years, the CD got worse. I suggest your son talk to his profs and let them know that he has CD and might need to miss a few classes or get up and use the bathroom during an exam. Once I told my profs, they were very understanding of any absences and always helped when I met with them to get the assignments.
During grad school my CD was much worse and I had to miss almost a month of school. Luckly I had spoken with my profs and they allowed me extra time to turn in assignments. There is always the disability group to turn to if you don't have any luck with the profs.

I quickly learned that when things got worse to cut out the drinks and fast food. Keeping a food diary might be helpful to know what his trigger foods are. he will just have to learn. When it gets bad enough, you find it easy to give up eating and drinking things that make it worse.

Good luck with your son.
Diagnosed with Crohns in 1998. Been on and off pred, entocort, immuran, asacol. Currently on Remicade every 6 weeks along with Asacol. Began having joint pain 01/2010.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 884
   Posted 5/26/2010 9:45 AM (GMT -7)   

I was in my worst flare during my last semester and I also talked to my professors and they were very understanding after that and didn't take off attendance points if I had to leave class early some nights.  I didn't live on campus, so I didn't have to eat campus food, but there should be some choices on campus that aren't as bad as others.  Even Wendy's carries grilled chicken sandwiches that don't bother me.  It's just a matter of making good choices when faced with bad ones as well and learning what does and doesn't bother him.  I also think he should keep a food diary. 

As far as drinks go, the only thing I drink other than water is diet caffeine free stuff.  Not real tasty, but keeps my stomach from getting upset by the caffeine.  As easy as it is to keep handy, quick snacks around, limit those with a lot of sugar or fat.  Baked chips work for me, but I know some of them can cause problems for some people if they have olean or other stuff like that in them.  Carbs really seem to help settle my stomach, so I'm big into crackers (goldfish, saltine, kinds with cheese in between them, etc.) for easy snacks.  It may be embarassing or hard for him to not get to eat what all of his friends are eating and to seem like a "picky eater," but it's better than the alternative.  It's just something he has to decide to do.  My boss's daughter was recently diagnosed and she is in college and just isn't willing to forgo the "normal" college food yet.          

Crohn's Disease, Acid Reflux/Gastritis, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, Endometriosis, Arthritis, Depression/Anxiety.  Too many meds to list them all.  =) 

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 430
   Posted 5/26/2010 4:24 PM (GMT -7)   
After eating a bland diet for 3 years, I went to university and went crazy.
It was a real trial by fire.
I wanted to see how much I could take.
But also, it felt so good to be able to eat again.
Your son is just pushing the boundaries of his body's endurance.
At this point, I would just be glad that he still has an appetite.
I was so sick as a kid that I gave up on food and my parents had to feed me like a baby. My dad didn't know what was wrong with my stomach and so he fed me lots of rice and lean meats like non battered white fish because he figured those were 'safe' foods.
Diagnosed with typical Crohn's at 16.
Got lucky with Asacol for a year, then even luckier with ten years of relative remission.
Now abscesses and fistulas are having an "atypical" Crohn's party around my junk.
The surgeon said it is inoperable and so I start Remicade on May 7th.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 417
   Posted 5/26/2010 5:42 PM (GMT -7)   
I feel for your son. So far I know what foods I have to stay away from, but other than that I eat as I please because I hurt whether or not I eat anything. Before I was dx with UC I was going to class, even during my spasms. The next semester I was taking online classes (mostly because I was going to be a new mom but that didn't happen because she died in utero) however after a month of online classes I was dx with UC. I haven't been back to school since. However I do plan on going again next fall and get a business degree. Hopefully things stay well enough with me that I feel safe going to class, if not, online classes again.
Diagnosed with UC in February 2009.
Diagnosed with Crohn's Colitis December 2009.
Flaring since October 2008
Possible Rheumatoid Arthritis

Medication: Pentasa 6x daily, Imuran 50 mg, multivitamin, Vit B12 1 g, omeprazole. Sulfasalazine

New Member

Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 5/26/2010 9:36 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks to everyone for your replies.
Yes, I am thankful he has an appetite....that is the one big difference thus far between his symptoms and mind.  I never wanted to eat when I had a flare..  but he still has an appetitite.
And I also agree that if he hears things from a nutritionist or the doc he will take it better than from MOM!!  Over this summer I'm hoping he'll agree to visit with a nutritionist.
Sgirl, I am so sorry for your loss.   
Dx'd with Crohn's in 1988 at age of 26 with lesions in stomach, ileum and colon. Took prednisone for years, including during pregnancies for my two children, DS-19 and DD-15. Flares and remissions over the past 22 years, but relatively mild overall. No surgeries...just managed with meds and diet.

Now DS-19 just Dx'd with crohn's in ileum after losing 37 lbs his freshman year in college. :(

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2006
Total Posts : 214
   Posted 5/26/2010 10:52 PM (GMT -7)   
As his mom, be his biggest advocate, my mom definitely was mine when I was in undergrad and dormed. Check with your son's college they usually have a department that help people with disabilities/illnesses/etc. I forgot the name of it, I just know I went to FIT and they called that department the "FIT-able department." But every college should have one. I was able to get accommodation forms to give to my teachers letting them know I may need to leave early, extended absences (We were only allowed to miss 2 classes or our grades would go down), and other things that were set and defined early in the year by me and the woman in charge at the FITable office. In addition to the accomodation forms for my professors, I was able to dorm all 4 years instead of the 1 (Since my college was in a city, we were only granting housing for the first year and then had to be put into a lottery) and most importanty, I was able to get one of the coveted studio apartment style dorms instead of the normal dorm room where people had to share a bathroom with a whole floor and eat in the cafeteria. I had only one roommate, and the 2 of us shared a bathroom and a kitchen so I got to make my own food. We never would have even known this department at the college existed had it not been for my mom's friend who told us about it.

This department helped advocate for me. As far as getting the better dorm room it was just a simple note from my doctor. I only had one teacher give me a problem. I technically didnt even need to tell them what I have, but I tried to be open about it. He once accused me of using my illness as an excuse to not be in class, which got me so upset because its the exactly opposite of me (i'm a total academic nerd! haha) He was in the wrong, since he was given the accomodation form at the beginning of the semester but we had a talk and were fine after that. That was really the only instance I had a problem with anyone.

Definitely look into finding this type of department at your son's school, it will help!

Good luck! :)
25 year old female, diagnosed with Crohn's in 2002 after being misdiagnosed with Lyme Disease for a year.  Have been on Prednisone, Asacol, Entocort, and Remicade in the past.
Currently on 100 50 mg of Mercaptopurine.  Just got put back on Asacol and Entocort.  I hate swallowing pills.  5 day hospital stay April '10.  Have to be put on 2 antibiotics and (cry) 40 35 30 mg of Prednisone.  Turning into a walking zombie with the lack of sleep (around 2 hours a night), but at least I've been super productive!
Debating going on Humira...need advice! :P

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 845
   Posted 5/27/2010 1:21 AM (GMT -7)   
I just want to second what Saraonthissite said about talking to the department of students with disabilities. They will do like she said about sending that letter to his professors and it will help him when he flares. Tell him to go and talk to his professors directly and let them know that he wants to be treated like a normal student but to please understand that he was just diagnosed with a new disease and it trying to get it under control. I did the same thing and it helped me big time when finals came and I was flaring. My professors gave me extentions and one even dismissed my taking the final all together and gave me a grade off of my other work. He may want to search for a state rehabilitation center and see if he can get some financial help with his schooling because of his disability. When I first contacted them I was not on state disability(ssdi) and they were incredible. The were willing to pay for my whole tuition and help me get into my career. Unfortunately, after 3 semesters I ended up having mulitple surgeries and in a constant flare and have had to take a break. I also recommend that he take as many online classes as he can.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 1289
   Posted 5/29/2010 9:14 AM (GMT -7)   
i dealt with crohn's all through was tough, but dealing with the University Heath Center and a GI doc on campus helped. teachers were understanding. my biggest issues were dealing with prednisone at times and learing where all of the "best" bathrooms were on campus. I think socially it was difficult at times but i think i certainly made the most of it on that end. i managed to make it through with my secret intact- i wasn't mature enough at the time to realize friend wouldn't care if i had to run to the bathroom all the at 36 years old i can finally admit that Crohn's is a very large part of who i am (unfortunately but oh well...) as far as foods etc...i relly didn't have to watch what i ate back then- didn't really seem to affect how i felt (other than greasy pizza etc.) i just knew whatever i ate would send me to the br sooner than later so i'd have to pick the times i ate a bit more carefully...good luck to your son in school!
35 year old male living in AZ.  Diagnosed with Crohns at age of 15.
Currently off Pred.  still taking Asacol.  Just had 1st Remicade infusion a week and a half ago
In the middle of a bad flare now for a year...lost almost 30 lbs. -- gained most of it back now.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 3763
   Posted 5/29/2010 1:28 PM (GMT -7)   
I'm sorry your son has to deal with this DD. As far as him having a mild case similar to yours, I can only tell you that my mom had CD too, and my CD has mimicked hers to a T, so maybe your son's will too. I'm sure there are no studies on it but that is my personal history.

My daughter, doesn't have CD, but she has a lot of food allergies and has been living in a dorm for the past 2 years. When she was just starting I was worried about her and how she would cope. Her college cafeteria has a person you can call who will meet with the student and walk them through the cafe and work with them to make sure that there is always the right food choices available and show them where the food is. You can call the food services and see if they offer anything similar. That way your son isn't left wondering if something is an OK choice or not. I also sent her back to the dorm every Sunday night with food that was safe for her and she kept it in her fridge in her dorm room to reheat later in the week.

CD 20 years officially, 30 unofficially. 3 resections '93, '95 '97
Managing with strict low residue diet, keeping symptoms to a minimum. All test show small amount of ulceration, still have occasional blockages. But still have a great time with my 2 daughters and husband!

Prednisone, 6MP,Prevacid, B12 shots, Bentyl, Xifaxan.....

New Member

Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 5/30/2010 7:24 AM (GMT -7)   
I am currently in college. 20 y/o f and I didn't even think about moving on campus because of my crohn's. I opted for a one bedroom apartment close to campus. Gave me more privacy to do all those nasty crohns things I have to do without the embarrassment of other people. Of course, I know alot of situations dont really allow for that to be an option though. I do have to work full time on top of school full time to maintain this private lifestyle, which has its drawbacks. I had a bad flare last spring semester and my professors wont so understanding. I should have withdrawn from classes but I am still covered under my parents insurance, so i had withdrawn I would have no longer been covered. Kind of a catch 22 for me, but my gpa suffered and I am slowly bringing it back up to par. As far as wendy's goes, when I am not flaring I can eat wendy's, or almost anything else for that matter. But not fiber. I try to stay away from that.
Emergency Room PCT
20 Years Old
CD since 2006
Remicade IV every 6 weeks
Paramedic Student

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 6927
   Posted 5/30/2010 8:00 AM (GMT -7)   
Just remember for some of us higher fat content slows down the GI transit time.
Forum Co-moderator - Crohn's Disease/Thyroid Disorders:_All comments have the caveat contact your local health care provider.

I will find a way or make one. –Phillip Sidney 1554-1586

All that I am and all that I shall ever be, I owe to my Angel Mother.

The Bucket List- Have you found joy in your life?  Has your life brought joy to others?

Make sure your suffering has meaning…

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 1766
   Posted 5/30/2010 9:56 AM (GMT -7)   
I was diagnosed with UC right before my freshman year of college. Have your son sign up with the college's disability services. They can help find housing (I was able to get a single room with a private bathroom) and let professors know that he may need to miss classes, etc.

I haven't had any problems with Wendy's :) He should keep a food diary for a month or so and see what (if any) foods bother him. I used to take a bunch of health snacks from home, and my mom would cook me food that I could freeze or refrigerate so I wouldn't have to buy unhealthy food from the college everyday.
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