Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Hints and Tips

Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinic

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Hints and Tips

Two girlsThe Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinic is a new clinic at American Family Children's Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, that has been designed specifically to help patients manage ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

You're Not Alone

Over 1.4 million people in the United States have IBD. Most of these people are kids just like you!

  • Of kids who have IBD, boys are just as likely as girls to have it
  • Of kids who have IBD, most are likely to live in northern climates (such as cold, cold Wisconsin)
  • Even famous people have IBD. Two recent presidents had IBD, including John F. Kennedy (ask your parents who he is!)
  • Many professional sports players, including those in the NFL, NBA and the Olympics, have IBD.

Although IBD can be painful in many ways, people have overcome the challenge and become very successful.

Living With IBD

Two boys playing basketballJust because you have IBD doesn't mean you can't live your life. Here are some things you can do to live a rich, full life, despite IBD:

  • Join a sports team: Managing IBD and playing on a sports team can be easy. Trying some new sports can be an easy way to meet new friends and get in shape. Besides the normal sports like basketball and football, have you ever thought about trying swimming, soccer or softball? What types of sports have you tried and like?
  • Volunteering: You can volunteer in lots of different ways, such as helping your teacher out after school or cleaning up a park. Talk to your teachers or parents if you want to start volunteering.
  • Reading: Reading really can be fun if you find something that you enjoy. Check out the library, where there are lots of sports, music and video game books and magazines out there that you may be interested in.
  • Have fun: Overall, the best way to help your IBD is to have fun. Don’t worry so much about your IBD. Have fun with your friends and family (family can be fun, too).

IBD Support

Young woman and young manEver wondered how to talk about IBD with your friends? How will they react and how will they treat you after knowing about your condition? There are support groups for people with IBD and other conditions that allow us to talk about these issues and get advice from others who have been through these situations before.

Controlling Your IBD

Girl sleepingGet more sleep: The best way to get more sleep is to establish a bedtime routine and do things the same way every night. Going to bed and getting up in the morning at the same time every day can be an easy way to start a routine. Avoid caffeine, soda and other junk food before bed. You can’t get good night sleep when your stomach is upset. Finally, the best way to fall asleep fast is to exercise or play sports after school. The more energy you expel during the day, the faster and better you will sleep at night

Reduce stress: Stress can really hinder your ability to control your IBD. School, work and friendships can all lead to increased stress but there are some tips on how to reduce the stress you feel on a daily basis:

  • Take a deep breath, step away from the situation and ask yourself “Why am I really mad?” Often people misdirect anger caused by a valid yet bigger issue on to everyday annoyances and inconveniences.
  • Know your triggers. If there are certain things that you know bother you or that you can’t accept know what they are, take steps to avoid them, and play out an appropriate reaction in your head when you’re feeling calm to train your mind to react that way when the problem arises in real life.
  • Talk it out. Reacting in anger often causes the reasoning center of the brain to shut off for a time and the way you can turn it back on is to talk rather than act out when anger takes hold. It may sound crazy but taking a few minutes to gather your thoughts and speak them out loud can do wonders to diffuse an angry situation.


Many kids go tanning during fall and winter. They want to look nice for school events and holidays. You need to know that tanning is not good for skin as it can cause skin damage and cancer.

Your doctor may have told you that because you take 6-MP (mercaptopurine) for your IBD, you should not go tanning. 6-MP changes the way the immune system works. The immune system is a part of our body, and is supposed to protect us from diseases and harmful parts of the environment, like UV rays from the sun, that can damage the skin.

While you take 6-MP, UV light might cause too much damage to your skin, so stop going to the tanning booth and use self-tanner instead. It’s much safer and it doesn’t cause cancer. That way, you can still look nice and tan for prom, but you stay safe.