Why You Should Care About World IBD Day

Find Out Who Really Needs An Awareness Day, And How You Can Spend The Day

World IBD Day
World IBD Day is observed every year on May 19. It's a day that is set aside to raise awareness about inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and the effects it has on patients and families. Image © World IBD Day

If you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or you love someone who does, you don't need an awareness day to tell you the impact it has on your daily life. People living with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, and their partners and caregivers, already have a vast education on IBD that can only be gained through experience. World IBD Day (observed each year on May 19) isn't really for you. World IBD Day is for everyone else -- the people you don't know as well as the people you do know -- who don't have the intimate knowledge of the challenges that IBD brings.

Are There People Who Don't Know About IBD?

Are there people in your life who don't know about your IBD? Or even about IBD in general? If they do know a little bit, perhaps they have only heard rumors or untruths about a "bathroom" disease that is brought on by mental stress or a poor diet (both of which are untrue). It's possible they see you come into work or school each day and are under the impression that everyday tasks are as easy for you as they are for everyone else (they're not). Others may have heard of Crohn's disease, but have no idea that ulcerative colitis and indeterminate colitis are also on the IBD disease spectrum, and can lead to complications and have the potential to be debilitating.

Who Really Needs World IBD Day

World IBD Day is for everyone who is not living life with these diseases. World IBD Day is to raise awareness amongst the people who would help -- if only they knew the impact IBD has on patients and caregivers.

We can not obtain the resources we need to fight stigma about IBD, improve access to care for patients, and raise funds needed for research if society doesn't know more about IBD. We can not remove the roadblocks that are hindering physicians and patients from making cost-independant, shared treatment decisions until we shine a light on those obstacles.

Important legislation won't get implemented until we make our legislators aware of the needs of patients and caregivers.

How You Can Get Involved

World IBD Day is to further knowledge about these diseases so that we can have patients and caregivers be heard and to achieve these goals. There are many things anyone can do -- on World IBD Day, or any other day -- to move the awareness campaign forward and help yourself and others with IBD. Here are some ideas on how you can get involved:

  1. Learn more about IBD: get educated with credible information. (Here's how to find good sources.)
  2. Tell someone about your experiences with IBD. (Create your own "elevator speech.")
  3. Write to your legislators, and tell them why IBD should be a legislative concern. (Join the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America Advocacy Network, a Crohn's and Colitis UK campaign or the Crohn's and Colitis Canada Ambassador Program.)
  4. Create a video to be shared on the World IBD Day YouTube channel. (Here's a document that explains how to get started.)
  1. Do you have another idea? Doing something -- big or small -- to raise awareness on World IBD Day, or any other day? Tell me about it on Twitter at @aboutIBD, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ibdcrohns, or on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/+AmberTresca/.

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