Back to School With Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Yes, summer is officially over, and children and adolescents are returning to school.  

Many of them haven’t been to school for the past year and a half, as they had to participate in remote learning from home.  Now they are returning to the classroom, and although they are excited to be out of the house and with their friends, they may experience some anxiety because of this change.

At the beginning of the pandemic, many of my patients with IBS actually felt better because their stress levels were decreased since they were home with their parents, there was a bathroom nearby, and they could easily turn off the sound and/or video during their online classes.

And now, with the pandemic and the Delta variant, many students are actually glad that summer is over and are excited to get back to in-person schooling.  Their socialization drought is now over, and being with their friends may feel like parched ground receiving much needed water.

Yet, for many students, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and stomach aches often increase this time of year.  IBS can cause nausea, pain, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, or any combination of all of these!  Anxiety often triggers these problems, and students feel more pressure during the school year than during vacations.  We are all familiar with youngsters having stomach aches Monday through Friday mornings, then being fine on the weekend, then having those stomach aches start again on Monday.  

The thing is, the stomach aches and other symptoms are real!  Often, children have tried lots of different medications, including homeopathic treatments, to no avail.  And, as it happens, medication is not the answer.

When this happens, children and families may feel upset, concerned, and maybe even a bit hopeless.  And I feel disappointed about that.  On the other hand, I feel hopeful, as I’ve had an enormous amount of experience and seen amazing results treating individuals with these issues.

Evidence based medical research has proven that the two best treatments for people with IBS are medical hypnosis and cognitive behavioral therapy.  I incorporate both of these methods when I treat my patients.  Typically there is significant improvement after only 1 to 3 visits.

So, if you or someone you know is struggling with IBS or any gastrointestinal issue, feel free to send me an email through my website by clicking here or check out my online program, Controlling Your Gut Feelings, that’s helped countless children and families help themselves from the comfort of home.

Jeffrey Lazarus, MD  September 2021