Building Awareness of IBD Patients

Crohn’s and Colitis awareness week starts December 1

December 1-7 is Crohn’s and Colitis awareness week. For anyone who is not familiar with these two illnesses, Crohn’s is an incurable disease that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis is also incurable and causes ulcers in the lining of the large intestine (colon).

Under the larger category Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), both diseases are extremely painful and can result in persistent diarrhea, fever, weight loss, and bleeding. The diseases can be physically debilitating. Most patients need to follow a special diet, take medication to reduce inflammation, and undergo one or several surgeries to remove parts of the digestive tract. There is no cure for the disease.

You don’t have to look sick to be sick

People with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis typically do not show any outward signs of the disease, and for this reason, the awareness of the disease is not very high. In many cases, the disease will occur in flare-ups, and then will have periods of remission when the patients have almost no symptoms but still need to remain on medication.

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America is using the slogan Be #IBD-Visible to help foster understanding of the “invisible” yet debilitating symptoms that these diseases bring. The campaign wants the public to understand the seriousness of IBD and to have compassion for people who are suffering from this serious condition, even if the sufferer’s symptoms seem invisible to others.

There are an estimated 1.6 million people (adults and children) living with Crohn’s and colitis throughout the U.S. Social media has played a role in educating others about IBD. Patients have become more open about posting pictures of themselves post-surgery and sharing their stories so that people understand that this is a serious condition.

The hope is that more employers will recognize that IBD is a debilitating condition and be more accommodating when employees need to take sick time to take care of their health. With this December’s awareness week, be sure to take a moment to check into Facebook and see how so many strong people are Being #IBD-Visible!


The Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health provides health-related advice and information on its weekly blog. We wish to raise awareness among our nursing students of Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, and other chronic and incurable disease that people live with every day.

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