What Does It Mean to Transition Health Care?

As teens with ulcerative colitis become adults, the health care provider who oversees their care will switch from a pediatric gastroenterologist to an adult provider. Planning for this transition can help teens take on more responsibility for managing their inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

When Should Teens With Ulcerative Colitis Transition Health Care? 

It depends on the person, but most teens with ulcerative colitis (UC) should transition to an adult health care provider when they're between 18 and 21 years old. Many young adults are going to college or moving away from home at this age. It's important for teens to learn how to take care of themselves and make independent decisions about their health.

How Can Teens With UC Prepare to Transition Health Care?

Starting as early as 12 years old, teens with ulcerative colitis can start to take charge of their health. Parents can supervise, then give more responsibilities as their child gets older.

To help prepare for this transition, teens should know:

  • about ulcerative colitis
  • when to get care
  • the names of all medicines, their dosages and when to take them, common side effects, and interactions with other medicines
  • if they have allergies to food or medicine
  • the answers to most questions about their health and medical history
  • how to:
    • schedule appointments
    • order refills
    • contact the care team
    • manage medical tasks outside of home
  • the consequences of not following the treatment plan
  • about insurance coverage and to always carry their insurance information with them

What Should Teens Do Before Going to College or Living on Their Own?

Before moving away from home, teens with ulcerative colitis should:

  • Have copies of their medical records, including medicines, allergies, immunizations, testing, and the gastroenterologist's name and phone number.
  • Find a gastroenterologist close to where they're living and coordinate with the doctor at home.

Teens going to college should:

  • Contact student health services to coordinate care with their gastroenterologist.
  • Contact the school's Office of Disability Services and talk to professors about accommodations and academic plans in case of illness.

Teens who start a job should:

  • Tell their employer how ulcerative colitis might affect work.

How Can We Find a Doctor Who Specializes in Ulcerative Colitis?

To find a doctor who specializes in caring for people with ulcerative colitis:

  • Ask your current health care provider for list of gastroenterologists.
  • Contact student health services at the college for referral to local gastroenterologists.
  • Go to http://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org or contact your local chapter of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation.
Back to Articles


Related Articles

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that happens only in the colon. It causes the inner lining of the colon to get red and swollen with sores called ulcers.

Read More

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

It's normal to get a stomachache once in a while, but some kids have something more serious called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Find out more about it.

Read More

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease is an ongoing illness caused by an inflammation of the intestines. There are two kinds of IBD: Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Read More

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to two chronic diseases that cause intestinal inflammation: ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Although they have features in common, there are some important differences.

Read More

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Having irritable bowel syndrome can make a kid feel awful. The good news is that kids can take steps to feel better.

Read More

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Some teens get stomachaches and diarrhea often. Read about irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common intestinal disorder that affects the colon.

Read More

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common intestinal problem that can cause cramps, gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Certain foods can trigger these problems. So can anxiety, stress, and infections.

Read More

Digestive System

Most people think digestion begins when you first put food in your mouth. But the digestive process actually starts even before the food hits your taste buds.

Read More

Digestive System

The digestive process starts even before the first bite of food. Find out more about the digestive system and how our bodies break down and absorb the food we eat.

Read More

Dealing With a Health Condition

If you suffer from a chronic illness, you know it can be anything but fun. But you can become better informed and more involved in your care. Here are tips to help you deal.

Read More

Crohn's Disease

Crohn's disease is a chronic condition that causes parts of the bowel to get red and swollen. The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms, prevent other problems, and avoid flare-ups.

Read More

Managing Your Medical Care

Visit our center on managing your medical care for advice on how to get involved in taking charge of your health and choosing the right health care providers.

Read More

Giving Teens a Voice in Health Care Decisions

Involving teens in their health care can help prepare them for managing it on their own as adults.

Read More

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2019 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

Search our entire site.