Skip to content

Leaving for College in Three Weeks, Please Help!

Meet Angela:

I’m mom to three, one grown, one about to enter college, and one in high school. No history of UC in the family whatsoever. My daughter leaves for college in a little more than three weeks. We’ve been searching for answers since 2 weeks following the onset of symptoms.

Her Daughter’s Symptoms:

Gastro says it’s NOT UC…symptoms are:

Feeling generally unwell/nauseous, bad gas (really foul-smelling), some bloating with stomach cramps, usually diarrhea, followed by small amounts of occasional constipation. Diarrhea sometimes accompanied by urgency. 99% of the time with red blood. Sometimes with mucous.

She’s Leaving For College in Three Weeks

Hi All,

Thank you Adam for your research and for facilitating this forum.

My daughter, now age 18, began having symptoms in mid to late April. She was feeling generally unwell/nauseous (whether she ate or didn’t eat), had bad gas (really foul-smelling), some bloating with stomach cramps, and diarrhea, followed by small amounts of occasional constipation.

She then came down with a severe sore throat (I thought strep), so off to the doctors we went. The diagnosis was No strep, just a “virus.” She also had a bad canker sore in her mouth that took weeks to resolve. She’s had them on rare occasions, but never to this extent. The doctor said she was re-opening it by accidentally biting it and to use warm salt water rinses and an oral analgesic.

The diarrhea increased in early May, accompanied by blood and some mucous.

She went back to the doctor and a physical exam ruled our hemorrhoids. Blood work showed normal CBC and no signs of Celiac disease or inflammation. Stool specimens ruled out bacteria, parasites, ova, etc.

On 6/2, she had a colonoscopy and endoscopy with biopsies. ALL normal. No signs of UC, which is what the Gastro was thinking. No signs of polyps, tumors, fissures, or internal hemorrhoids. Normal, normal and more normal.

The day following the colonoscopy, she didn’t have any bowel movements. The following day, she had a somewhat formed stool with no bleeding. The next day, diarrhea with bleeding returned.

The diarrhea and diarrhea with urgency and bouts of constipation- all with red bleeding continued.

The Gastro suggested that my daughter might be having difficulty passing stool due to bouts of pebble like constipation, which is causing peri-rectal tears which could result in bleeding. Stool also backs up around the constipation, turning into diarrhea which works its way around the constipation, sometimes with urgency, 99% of the times with bright red bleeding. No peri-rectal tears or ANY bleeding was seen during the scope. The Gastro doc said these tears can heal over very quickly.

Dr suggested taking a Colace a day to soften the stool. My daughter was reluctant to try ANYTHING that could make her bowel situation even more unpredictable. She had to attend a 3 day college orientation (traveling 4 hours each way, living in the dorms, sharing limited bathroom stalls) and she’s now trying to hold down a part time job. I haven’t insisted that she try this.

I’ve researched a “Soluble Fiber” diet with the hopes that this would help “bulk” up the loose stools. To me, this would just be a temporary fix because it doesn’t solve the underlying cause.


The Gastro ordered a 3- day stool collection, which has shown very little, although my daughter hasn’t been able to collect the specimen necessary to test for C-diff because she hasn’t been home when the urgency arose. The initial C-diff test was negative.

One thing that DID appear this time was signs of “inflammation” in the stool. Fecal ocult shows blood in the stool, which was no surprise.

The Gastro said the next step is an MRI Enterography to look at her small intestine for the possibility of Crohn’s Disease.

This test is scheduled for Wednesday.


Some random things, or perhaps not so random to a new set of eyes:

My daughter really hasn’t altered her diet, although she IS lactose intolerant. She usually takes a Lactaid tablet before consuming dairy.

Greek yogurt every morning and a probiotic every evening (“Align”) MAY be helping– my daughter remarked that when she stopped eating the yogurt, she felt worse.

I’m considering trying a higher-quality Probiotic (perhaps Healthy Trinity by Natren) and have purchased L-Glutamine which just arrived. I guess I’d like to wait before introducing anything “new” into the mix. Thoughts?

She has periodically suffered from hives of “undetermined origin” and saw an Allergist/Immunologist several years ago. The hives weren’t food related, but seemed tied to stress and/or hot/humid conditions.

Bleeding stopped toward the end of the cleanse prior to the colonoscopy. Bleeding also stopped after a day of severe diarrhea earlier this month. Probably because she was “empty.” But the bleeding didn’t start up again with the very next bowel movement, either.

The bleeding is bright red, which led the Gastro to believe it was coming from her colon and NOT from further up.

She has taken a significant amount of Motrin due to dance-related injuries (Grade 2.5-3 ankle sprain in Nov 2013).

She hasn’t lost any weight. If anything, she has been gaining and now weighs between 135-140 lbs at 5′ 7″ tall. Her activity level decreased since sustaining the severe sprain in Nov 2013 and hasn’t resumed to what it was pre-injury.

She drinks black coffee every morning and often has another coffee or iced coffee later in the day.

She takes Melatonin before bed.

She has had migraines for which she takes Excedrin Migraine formula. Current migraines may be as a result of cutting back on caffeine consumption.

Over the last 12-15 months, her previously thick hair has thinned. Significantly. She isn’t taking anything that would cause this. Her allergist and general doc ran thyroid blood work last year which was normal.

She takes an oral contraceptive, a multi-vitamin with iron and Citracal + D.

Can OC’s reduce gut bacteria?

She takes Claritan or Zyrtec every morning.

She’s allergic to penicillin-related antibiotics.

I expected (maybe wishful thinking?) that my daughter’s symptoms would’ve been caused by some bacteria or parasite acquired from travel (she went to Italy in April 2013 and Mexico the year prior). Or from accidentally ingesting some lake water while kayaking last summer or this spring. OR from drinking from an unclean travel coffee cup or sports water bottle.

The Gastro doc hasn’t tried any medications– for which I think I’m somewhat grateful because I’m wary of the side effects, especially of the Prednisone. But this can’t continue without some diagnosis or intervention.

I can’t think of anything else to share…except my distress that we’re running out of time- my daughter leaves for college in 3 weeks.


Medications/Supplements right now:

Greek yogurt

Probiotics (Align)

written by Angela

submitted in the colitis venting area

7 thoughts on “Leaving for College in Three Weeks, Please Help!”

  1. Hello Angela, I sense the urgency in your note, to find a solution to your daughter’s symptoms before she leaves for college! My goodness! What stress! I’ll be curious to hear what anyone else has to say, but here are my thoughts.

    Although it sounds as though she could have UC or Crohn’s, many of your daughter’s symptoms could be an intolerance to dairy! I forget what percentage of the population is lactose intolerant (as you admitted she is), but it’s higher than you might think, and can get worse over time as one loses the ability to digest it. So, maybe she’s done fine popping a Lactaid in the past, but now her body is totally rejecting it, and manifesting reactions. Sadly, people just wander around suffering with various symptoms (rashes, acne, bowel issues, etc.) and doctors out there either aren’t knowledgeable enough, or choose not to tell patients to stop ingesting milk meant for another species (I’m sorry, but that’s what cow’s milk is in my opinion — milk meant for baby cows, not humans. When I eliminated dairy, my painful, cystic acne cleared up, and NO, the dermatologist never once mentioned I might try that. I stopped seeing him after he gave me creams that dried out my entire face on TOP of the painful acne I had which was still erupting on my face! Skin issues come from the inside!!) So, I am a strong proponent of eliminating dairy, and it’s certainly less risky to do that than have to take Prednisone! I am curious how your doctor determined her hives were not diet related. I’d be surprised if they really aren’t.

    Next, your doc is correct to say the bowel can heal rather quickly. Mine says as little as three days. So, whether it’s dairy or something else, there could be a food she’s eating that triggers symptoms, but then the bleeding stops again. If she hasn’t started yet, she needs to keep a detailed notebook of everything she eats, what her symptoms are and when, when she goes to the bathroom, everything! You may start to see a pattern somewhere.

    I agree she should not take Colace now, as it will only confuse the picture. Same with L-glutamine. It’s good she is being tested for C-Diff, although typically that is more of a constant watery diarrhea rather than the back-and-forth symptoms your daughter has. The MRI on Wednesday sounds good, to help rule out Crohn’s. The canker sores in her mouth could be a sign of that, or a manifestation of a food allergy. How long has she been taking Greek yogurt and probiotics? Everyone seems to be different on this, but the probiotic I tried was WAY too strong for me and sent me to the BR with diarrhea! Keeping the journal may help to see if there’s any correlation there. If it were me, I might stop anything probiotic right now while she eliminates dairy and other potential triggers. If it turns out she DOES have UC or Crohn’s, probiotics are generally helpful for us, sometimes better in smaller amounts though, in fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt made with almond or soy milk, kombucha, etc. I just got a yogurt maker to start making my own –yippee! It’s so simple, she could do it in her dorm room! (I think Adam may have a video on this, but there are plenty on youtube as well.) No more Motrin for now!!! I assume you mentioned this because you’re aware of the possible irritation to the bowel. If I were her, I would also eliminate coffee for now. She can go back to that later if necessary, but now it’s not good if she wants to eliminate a bunch of possible symptom triggers in the next 3 weeks. Another biggie is gluten sensitivity. I’ve tested neg. twice for Celiac, went gluten-free anyway per a naturopath’s recommendations, didn’t think I was seeing a change, but when I’ve fudged recently and eaten gluten, I’ve been bloated and uncomfortable. Many people have some of your daughter’s symptoms from gluten sensitivity, including migraines. It’s not the same thing as having Celiac’s disease.

    I have some questions about other things you mentioned. 1. Why/for how long has she had to take Melatonin? Are there any possible side effects from that? It always concerns me when someone can’t sleep normally. There is probably a cause, so hopefully she will seek to determine that. For some, coffee is simply a no-no. We seem to be a society that uses coffee to wake up and sleeping pills to make us sleep, which is rather alarming. 2. Migraines are not normal either. Has she tried to determine the cause for them? Do a simple google search, and you’ll find lists of potential triggers, which, interestingly, include dairy, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and gluten. 3. Does her thinning hair correlate to starting oral contraceptives? Sounds like a hormonal thing, since her bowel symptoms don’t correlate to that time frame. Glad her doc checked thyroid function, but research and make sure she doesn’t have any other signs of thyroid issues. I’ve heard the standard thyroid tests don’t catch everyone who actually has thyroid dysfunction. (On a side note, I hope your daughter has seriously researched the pill and it’s potential side effects, both immediate and longer term. That’s all I will say on that.) 4. Why/for how long has she taken a multi. with iron, and the Citracal + D? Iron can be irritating to the intestines, and some people simply cannot tolerate it. Not sure if it can irritate enough to cause bleeding, but it is definitely KNOWN to cause upset and constipation . You said her CBC and other labs were normal, so I would not have her taking these right now. And my personal thoughts on vitamins are that we should be getting what we need from our food, rather than ingesting synthetic vitamins. Unless she has tested low, or is diagnosed with bowel disease in which case she may have to start supplementing vitamins, does she really NEED these? Most people apparently ARE low in Vit. D, so we should all get some sun every day possible, for our bodies to make that naturally. Other than that, a young woman starting college should not need vitamins in my opinion. 5. Why does she take Clariten/Zyrtec? Back to my initial thought. Eliminating dairy (or some other trigger food you may discover in the next weeks/months) may also eliminate her need for these meds! The body has many, many ways of expressing food sensitivities.

    You are smart to have suspected some kind of infection picked up on one of her trips, but if they’ve tested and it’s not that, focus your energies on these other things. Basically, if you only have 3 weeks to figure something out, make it count. Perhaps have a session with someone knowledgeable about doing an elimination type diet. I would eliminate the things I mentioned for sure. Some people notice almost immediate improvement once they eliminate trigger foods, but it may take much longer than 3 weeks for some things to clear the system. Research this, because I am not knowledgeable on this. (Eggs can cause foul-smelling gas, so you might eliminate them too, to see if that improves that. Blood in the stool is smelly though too, so it may just be that.) One thing I would hope is that before your daughter would EVER go on Prednisone or other UC drugs, that you would have her do a complete elimination diet, which is far more strict to start out with, gradually adding more foods back in one at a time to monitor for reactions. You may even want to do that now if your research leads you in that direction. There is also blood testing that can be done to identify food sensitivities, but it can be expensive. Some people have issues with grains, others with certain fruits/veggies but not others, etc. It would be interesting to know what her diet is like NOW, but if she wants to figure this out, she needs to eliminate any junk food and be serious about this. Since you are helping her with all this, make sure you read labels for hidden trigger ingredients. (Milk, for example, has about a gazillion ways to hide in food under various names, so you’ll need to google.) Better yet, just don’t EAT foods with ingredient lists you don’t recognize! I sincerely hope your daughter does not have UC or Crohn’s and you’ll be able to determine another cause for her symptoms. Please keep us updated. We all learn from each other!

  2. April Lavoie-Legrand

    I would just like to say that the human body is a very unique and complicated machine. Not all doctors really know what the human body is all about. The best person to diagnose a symptom is your family and yourself. If your not happy with the results then get a 2nd and 3rd opinion before coming to a conclusion. I was misdiagnosed for 14 years. And now that im 35 and was finally diagnosed properly about the age of 26, i am on the correct medications and getting the proper medical care. Doctors make mistakes too. And thats what it sounds like here. You may want to get other doctors to diagnose her as well. I know its a pain in the butt- literally- but it has to be done. It sounds like Colitis,Crohns, or Diverticulitis. All these things can be a cause. Even IBS can be a factor in this. Also when taking over the counter medications that are NSAIDS, like ibuprophen, Advil, Aleve, etc…. these are damaging to the bowels and can cause bleeding in anybody. Maybe write down how much is taken and discuss with a doctor you trust and see what he thinks.Well i hope your daughter finds out the issues and has a very successful college career. Its tough getting through school, but tis even tougher going through bodily issues. Speaking form experience. :) Take care. Hope for the best!!

  3. Your daughter will be okay…just finding the right doctor and testing.
    The Greek Yogurt should be PLAIN….try some plain Lifeway Kefir too…it has probiotics that fight C-Diff from research I did.

    YES…be sure that she is tested for all the bacterias that she may have come in contact with in her travels and the lake!!

    Stay away from caffeine!!

    Eat simple foods…means no processed junk food and cereals and such!!
    Stay away from starchy carbs like in breads, muffins, cakes and such.

    So much could be happening…I hope you find a good doctor to help!
    Be sure when she goes to school to let the nurse at student health know of her situation. It is good to have someone familiar with your issues at school. That is why they are there.

    Good Luck!!

  4. I forgot to mention . . . . . in case you’re not aware, if your daughter eliminates coffee and other potential triggers, and depending on her diet now, other “junk” foods, you both need to be aware she may actually feel worse for a few days before feeling better. There are a lot of simply toxic ingredients in the food-like products people are eating nowadays, (sweeteners, MSG, food dyes, etc., etc.) and withdrawal from those things may take a bit and not feel too great. Sometimes people give up after a few days, but instead, they need to recognize that as a the detox. process and keep going! This is actually a great time for her to evaluate all this, before college I mean. I don’t think anyone ever regrets eating healthier. Hopefully you will help her make changes now that can only help her overall health in the long run. Best wishes!

  5. Thank you all for your input. I was holding off on responding until my daughter had the MRI Enterography which happened last Wednesday.

    The test showed NO signs of Crohn’s…no thickening, no abscesses, no obstructions, no stenosis, and no problems with connections between organs.

    Her symptoms of bloody diarrhea continue.

    The doctor would like to perform another colonoscopy in case she missed something that could cause bleeding- like a polyp lying flat. I’m reluctant to have the same doctor perform the same tests. Sure, a polyp could be causing the bleeding, but how/why would a polyp cause diarrhea?!

    ***Daughter’s stool specimen showed extremely elevated signs of inflammation- her levels were 1,100 when less than 120 are normal. ***

    The doctor said this could be similar to another teen she treated years ago. All tests were negative. Symptoms persisted. 6-8 months later, the girl had full-blown ulcerative colitis affecting the entire colon (pancolitis?).

    I asked about prescribing medication to try to get symptoms under control. Dr wants to perform another colonoscopy first. She wouldn’t prescribe steroids, rather “Azacol,” which I haven’t yet researched.

    I wonder if another blood test should be done to check for anemia?

    What about Video Capsule Endoscopy as a less-invasive diagnostic tool?

    What about a 2nd opinion. I don’t want current doctor to perform any tests that she has already done, especially not another colonoscopy b/c a new doctor will most likely want to perform their own.

    My daughter leaves for college in 2 1/2 weeks. We’re running out of time.

    It was suggested that my daughter try a good probiotic (Healthy Trinity), Papaya enzyme and L-Glutamine…and perhaps either a gluten free diet or perhaps the SCD diet?

    If you were in my shoes, what would you do?

    1. Angela, if I were in your shoes, I SURE would encourage your daughter to try gluten free/dairy free for at least a few weeks, and even better, a few months. What is there to lose except pain and bleeding! You have to be diligent about reading labels, though and check all ingredients. The best thing is to eat whole, unprocessed foods and try to cut out sugar too. All the symptoms you describe are SO related to either celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. I would do some reading about it (try to stay away from anything talking about it being a “fad”). A good website is the University of Chicago Celiac Center – they have a diagram showing related symptoms. Also “” has information but is mostly real people relating their real experiences. Also, Jennifer Esposito has information on her website “”. Also, as Marlee mentioned above, it is quite common to feel somewhat worse for a few days after starting an elimination diet but hang in there – it does get better. It is a detox process for the body and also, if there is candida overgrowth, the yeast will die off if they are starved of sugar. The die-off can cause you to feel worse for just a very short time. Good luck. Keep educating yourself and do get 2nd and 3rd opinions.

  6. Glad the MRI looked good. Sorry to hear your daughter’s still having symptoms. Asacol is a form of messalamine, and isn’t as bad as far as potential side effects go. It’s an anti-inflammatory, not immunosuppressant. Checking another CBC (to check for anemia) is up to your doc’s best judgement based on your reports of amount of blood loss in stool. Don’t really know anything about a video capsule endoscopy, but HAVE heard of the capsule becoming stuck in the terminal ileum and having to be surgically removed. Don’t know how much of a risk this is overall, but something to be aware of. I think I would feel the same way about having a different doctor do the next colonoscopy. It is completely within your right to ask for that. Just tell your doc, no offense to her, but you’d like a new pair of eyes on the situation. Regarding diet/supplements, I already gave you my thoughts. I figured you would’ve at least eliminated gluten and dairy by now, since those are big triggers for so many people. I watched an interesting web conference yesterday on gluten sensitivity/testing. Learned several things I had never heard before. Sounds like the only route to go for testing is through Cyrex labs, which tests for numerous peptides of gluten, instead of just one on the test that docs normally order. Anyway, it might be a lecture you want to save for later if you have gluten testing done. Apparently the SCD diet, or autoimmune Paleo diet help many people. These are not complete elimination diets though. I am researching doing a complete elimination diet myself, and someone just recommended a book to me called “Clean Gut” by Alejandro Junger, which apparently guides you through a 21-day detox of all potential allergenic foods, and then shows you how to slowly reintroduce foods and monitor for reactions. I’m going to get it from my local library. Wishing your daughter the best possible outcome and look forward to updates!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.