12 Facts to Commemorate the 12th Annual Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week

In 2011, U.S. Senate Resolution 199 established Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week. Since then, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation has led an annual commemoration of Awareness Week from Dec. 1 to Dec. 7. In honor of the 12th anniversary of #CCAwarenessWeek, here are 12 fast facts about Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 

IBD causes chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI tract). 

In Crohn’s disease, inflammation can occur anywhere from the mouth to the anus. In ulcerative colitis, inflammation occurs in the colon or rectum (also known as the large intestine).  


IBD, which stands for inflammatory bowel disease, differs from IBS, which stands for irritable bowel syndrome. 

While some of the symptoms of IBD and IBS overlap, IBS does not cause chronic inflammation of the GI tract. 


There are several medical and surgical treatment options for IBD, but currently, there are no cures for Crohn’s or colitis. 

More information about medications can be found in our IBD Medication Guide, and you can learn more about surgery for Crohn’s disease here, and ulcerative colitis here.  


Several diagnostic tests may be used to diagnose IBD. 

Initially, your doctor may perform blood or stool tests. After reviewing your blood and/or stool tests, your doctor may recommend additional imaging tests to look inside your GI tract. These tests may include an endoscopy, colonoscopy, or bowel ultrasound. 


IBD can cause patients to experience symptoms outside of their gut. 

While abdominal pain and bowel urgency are among the most common IBD symptoms, patients can also experience joint pain, fatigue, and other extraintestinal complications.


Patients in remission should not stop taking their medication.

Even if you are feeling well, you should not stop taking any medications before discussing it with your doctor. This will help prevent recurrence of symptoms and/or inflammation in your GI tract.It’s important to stay on top of colon cancer screenings, especially for IBD patients. 


Patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease involving the colon are at higher risk for developing colorectal cancer than the general population.

Though the vast majority of patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis will never develop colorectal cancer, it is important to discuss the risk with your doctor since it is a highly treatable disease when it’s found early. 


There is no one-size-fits-all approach to diet and nutrition for IBD patients. 

Knowing what to eat can be tricky for IBD patients, which is why we created Gut Friendly Recipes, a free recipe finder and meal planning tool with over 500 recipes vetted by dietitians who specialize in IBD. 


IBD patients can receive accommodations at school or work.  

To gain a better understanding of the K-12 accommodations process, see more information here. Employee and employer resources can be found here.


If IBD is taking a toll on your mental or emotional wellbeing, help is available. 

If living with a chronic and often painful illness is affecting your mental health, you are not alone. See support resources here.


If you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please do not hesitate to reach out for help by calling 911, going to the closest emergency room, or calling the 988 Lifeline. 


Selecting health insurance, understanding medication copays, and appealing denied claims can be challenging for IBD patients. 

Navigating the cost of IBD can be a difficult process. To learn more about cost management see our resources here


More research is needed on the role of complementary medicine in IBD. 

Some studies have shown that complementary medicine may help contribute to reduced pain and increased quality of life. However, complementary medicine will not cure your disease and it should not replace conventional therapies. See more about complementary medicine here


You can make an impact on IBD cures! Please consider making a donation to the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation.


Thank you to our Awareness Week sponsors:

Boehringer Ingelheim