How to navigate back to school with IBS:
Going back to school can be hard enough with packed schedules, test, new teachers, and locker room drama. But navigating that with Gut health issues can add extra drama.
Gut health issues like IBS can cause symptoms like
Even though they may not be life threatening, these symptoms can still cause plenty of stress - something that can be triggered by stress- which can lead to your stomach gurgling in a quiet class.
If you or someone you know is a student dealing with Gut health issues, you are not alone. Roughly over 3 million Americans each year have IBS, including many teens and young adults.
Knowing that you are not alone in this means that you don’t have to let your Gut win. Rather, think about using these strategies to manage your Gut health symptoms at school and possibly make being a student a little bit easier.
1. Bring your own food:Meals and snacks at school aren’t all ways known for being so healthy and friendly for those with sensitive guts. Such known school staples are
- Baked beans
- Sugary drinks
- Fatty meats (like bacon, salami, pork rinds)
Having control of what you eat is the best way to limit your gut health symptoms. This is a bonus, as packing your own lunch and snacks lets your skip the lines in the cafeteria and spending more time enjoying your meal while being with your friends. Also eating at a slower pace can give your digestive system more needed time to process your food.
2. Be mindful of your cycle:
Your period can have a major effect on your digestive system. The hormones like estrogen and progesterone are known to reduce the muscle contractions in the intestines, slowing down the process of food throughout your body. This can lead to constipation. Being aware of the phases of your period can offer a heads up for your future gut health.
3. Relax as much as possible:
Stress and Anxiety are known to worsen IBS and other Gut health issues. They can cause inflammation in your colon, leading to heightened pain signals to your nerves, swelling, and spasms. So how do you de-stress while in school? A few options can find some relief:
- Abdominal massage
- Take slow deep breaths
- Apply gentle heat
4. Plan for those bad days:
Like any chronic medical condition, gut health issues like IBS can make it hard to focus on school, homework- or anything else. Plan ahead when you can take time to study or do homework. If your symptoms lead to missing class, reach out to your teacher or counselor to inform them about your condition and about ways to catch up in class.