A guide to taking medications for kids and teens with IBD

A guide to taking medications for kids and teens with IBD

Bonney Reed-Knight, PhD

A Clinical Psychologist at Emory University School of Medicine and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, has contributed articles on eating disorders and other emotional and psychological problems.

Taking medication can be one of the most challenging parts of having IBD (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis). In fact, kids and teens often say that having to frequently take medications is the worst part of the disease. But not taking prescription and over-the-counter medications as prescribed can have serious consequences:

  • Worsening of the disease
  • Increased symptoms such as pain and diarrhea
  • Being prescribed even more medications
  • Missing out on school and fun activities due to not feeling well

Kids and teens have multiple reasons for not taking their medications including:

Developing side-effectsForgetting
Worrying about possible side-effectsDifficulty swallowing pills
Believing that there are too many pillsLack of organization
Feeling embarrassed to take medications in front of friendsBelieving that taking medications gets in the way of activities
Feeling tired of taking medications Feeling tired of having IBDRunning out of pillsFighting with parents

We know that teenagers and kids who have been diagnosed longer with IBD are especially at risk for having trouble taking medications regularly. Fortunately, you can make improvements with a few simple guidelines.

1, Remember that taking medications is hard for most kids and teens with IBD but there are strategies that can help!

2, Let your gastroenterologist or other member of the GI team know that you're having trouble taking your medications so that solutions can be discussed

3. Parents can play a very important part in making sure that medications get taken, even for teenagers. We all need a little help getting hard things done in life, and it is important for parents to stay involved in medication taking even as teenagers take on more independence.

4. For difficulties with remembering and organization, alarms, cell-phone reminders, and pill boxes may be helpful. Consider apps such as http://www.medisafe.com/

5. For those times when your child doesn't feel like taking medicine, is there a friend or adult you can talk to about your child's difficulties? Maybe a parent, teacher, or friend from school who can offer some encouragement?

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