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So you have IBD.

And you’re entering your first year of college or you’re returning for another academic year.

Let’s knock this year out together! But what to pack!?

Where to start..


Maybe have a spare comforter ready to go just in case of an emergency. Have a few spare sets of sheets just in case something happens in the middle of the night. Most dorm mattresses are extra long, so think about purchasing a waterproof & bug protecting mattress protector. This way, in case the worst were to happen, a quick wash will do just to trick! Expenses in college can be tricky, especially doing laundry often. One way to spoil yourself is purchasing scented beads to put through the wash during any normal load. I love the Lavender beads. As I’m slipping into bed at night, it’s soothing and is refreshing after a long, sore day. If you want to take it one step further, they sell infused/scented stuffed and weighted animals. I’ve used these in the past as pressure pillows.


Stamps, cards, fun pens! You will soon realize how big the gesture of receiving snail mail is when you get nothing in the mail for 15 days straight. (Don’t worry, that ends the day you graduate and the bills start coming!) Plus, a nice letter home every now and then is well-received.

Lock box

You’re going to have belongings you want to keep secure besides your pills (more on that shortly), like jewelry and possessions you want to keep locked away for privacy purposes. In addition to medication lock boxes, there are some good personal lock boxes for both big and small items. (It’s not a great idea to bring expensive things with you to a dorm or a college campus house, but there will, of course, be things you’ll just have to bring!) Some are pretty darn incognito and some are made to look like large makeup cases. Either way, online websites like have a large selection.

No matter what you decide to do, it’s important to keep a lock box for certain medications – costly ones, injections and especially any type of pain medication or anything someone might try to get a hold of. Save yourself anxiety and make the purchase.

Sharps containers

Do you have a monthly/weekly/daily injection? Make sure you’ve got a large enough or compact enough Sharps container in the event that you self-inject. Before you head to school, have a plan of action of where you can bring your sharps container when it’s full. I was “lucky” enough to live across the street from a hospital on campus and they would let me deposit my sharps when I went in for my infusions. Do your research and call around to some national agencies as well as pharmacies or worst case scenario, save them CAREFULLY and bring them home and dispose of them as you have been. Check out some of the above links to avoid costly programs, but be responsible with your sharps!

Ostomy supplies

If you currently have an ostomy, consider getting a small stackable Rubbermaid container to hold your supplies. Often times, it comes in bulk, but for convenience purposes, having a separate rollaway tote may come in handy when you need su pplies at the drop of a hat. An organized divided container may be a benefit to see when you’ll need to re-order to keep track of your supply of each item.

Speaking of ostomy supplies, do you carry a smaller “just in case” bag with you during your walks to and from campus? You never know when leaks will happen, so having a smaller sling or cross-body bag that will conveniently fit in your main backpack or bag will be a huge help! Cute and stylish – who knew?!

Over the Counter Medications

In a jiffy, there are a few things that will make you feel a bit better when your mom isn’t around to make you homemade chicken noodle soup or heat up a blanket in the dryer for you when you’re not feeling well. make sure you have the essentials, so you don’t have to run to the store feeling crummy when you contract the cold your roommate gave you or you get “normal people” sick. Things like Maalox, Miralax, Benadryl, etc. Things like OTC “ingredients” to mix together when things like mouth sores happen. Some people make a mouthwash out of liquid Benadryl mixed with Maalox or Mylanta. These items should be kept in a regular medicine cabinet and you’ll lucky find that you’ll need one of these items sooner than you might think. 😉

Comfort items

Let’s be honest, nothing about public toilet paper is something to bat an eyelash at. If you’re lucky, they’re 2-ply and don’t leave splinters. If you can find a convenient way to dispose of them, invest in some wet wipes in moments of “distress”.. and maybe you can convince mom and dad to send a TP care package of the “good stuff” to you every now and then.

Before you leave, get in touch with Disability Services on your campus

every campus has one. They get documentation from your doctor to work with professors to get assistance when you’re not doing well health-wise. For me personally, I was offered time and a half for my exams in a quiet environment. Sometimes, this really came in handy when they were online quizzes/exams. It made a big difference, so if I had to run to bathroom in the middle of my test, I wouldn’t have as much anxiety. They also offer note-taking on campuses. There are other services that your Disability counselor will go over with you. This should be the most important item on your list and it should be taken care of first. The sooner you have this done, the better.

College is crazy & messy enough – take some extra time to put thought into exactly what you want to take with vs. what you need to take with.

What else would you put on your list?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    10 months ago

    These are great tips. I wasn’t diagnosed until after college, but I have to say, I would have so appreciated reaching out to Disability Services. I feel like if I was in college with IBD, I would have really benefited from having these services to help ease any anxiety that came with being in class and not feeling well.

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • Kelly C (#purpleproject) moderator author
    10 months ago

    Funny you should mention – I just wrote an article about my favorite human ever, my disability advisor. He helped me through surgeries, tests… so much. I just love him!

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