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The Real Scoop About IBD in Young Adults

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a gastrointestinal disorder that causes pain or discomfort, bloating, gas, and diarrhea or constipation, is increasing among young adults. For some young adults, the symptoms are annoying or embarrassing. For others, they’re debilitating – interfering with sports, social events and school.

Why does IBD strike so many young adults?

“When it comes to chronic GI conditions, a special focus must be paid to the mind-gut connection. From liver disease to obesity to IBD, digestive disease affects mental, physical and spiritual health,” said Elizabeth Raskin, M.D., surgical director of Hoag’s Margolis Family Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program. “Hoag’s approach to patient well-being is unparalleled both locally and nationally. We’re here to provide integrative care that improves not only digestive function, but whole-person health.”

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It’s Not in Your Head (But It’s Not Not in Your Head). Young adulthood is a transitional time in anyone’s life. Add IBD to the mix, and the feelings of anxiety and stress seem to multiply. Studies have found that the mind-gut connection is so strong that IBD can trigger anxiety – and anxiety can trigger IBD. Hoag’s counseling and support groups help young patients develop the coping mechanisms that can tamp down both their IBD and their anxiety, leading to a healthier, happier life.

You Are What You Eat. Managing your diet and lifestyle (read: eat well and exercise) can have a profound effect on your IBD. Hoag’s registered dieticians and care counselors can help you choose the right foods and lifestyle changes to keep your IBD at bay.

Medication Might Help. If preventative methods aren’t enough to clamp down on IBD symptoms, your doctor may prescribe anti-spasmodic medication, acid reducers or other medications. Probiotics might be helpful, though Hoag doctors caution that they are unregulated and inconsistent. “The important thing is to talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing painful or uncomfortable symptoms,” Dr. Raskin said. “We are here to help.”