World IBD Day & Purple Ribbon Awareness

World IBD Day unites people worldwide in their fight against Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC).

Every year on May 19th, people from around the world come together to take part in World IBD Day to raise awareness for Crohn’s disease and UC and raise money to support research toward a cure. Organizations from 50 countries on five continents participate in activities to bring awareness on the debilitating nature of these chronic and incurable digestive diseases.

Read more about what IBD is, the connection of the purple ribbon, and ways to give back on this special day.

What is IBD?

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is the collective term for the painful, medically incurable diseases that attack the digestive system. They cause chronic inflammation of GI tract but are not to be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

How Many People Have Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis?

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC) are the two main types of IBD. It is estimated that over 10 million people globally live with IBD, however in many countries there are no official registries. Disease activity in Crohn’s disease may occur along any part of the digestive tract, while inflammation in ulcerative colitis is limited to the large intestine (colon).

In addition to the impact on the GI tract, IBD may also affect the joints, skin, bones, kidneys, liver, and eyes of people with IBD.

Is There a Cure for IBD?

There is no cure. Plus, there is a limited understanding of the cause in addition to a lack of public understanding of the chronic pain, and people with IBD cope with this every day.

It’s sometimes called an invisible illness because symptoms like abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fever, and weight loss are difficult for others to see. Additionally, people with IBD might feel embarrassed or hesitant to talk about it.

Purple Ribbon Awareness

Many of the IBD associations linked to World IBD Day, including Crohn’s disease, give meaning to the purple ribbon as a symbol of awareness and support for those living with IBD. Show your support of people with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis by wearing a purple ribbon on May 19th!

About World IBD Day

The day is coordinated by the European Federation of Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis Associations (EFCCA). It was created in 2010 during Digestive Disease Week in the United States and takes place annually on May 19th.

IBD is unfortunately increasing worldwide over recent years and it is no longer a disease mainly observed in Europe, North America and Oceania. IBD incidence is rising in industrialized countries in Africa, Asia, and South America.

EFCCA has been coordinating the global campaign aimed at raising IBD awareness by illuminating famous landmarks in purple, like The Stony Bridge in Brisbane, Australia, and The National Palace of Culture in Bulgaria.

More Ways to Give Back on World IBD Day

World IBD Day is a special day to bring global awareness for IBD. Whether you or a loved one experiences this disease firsthand, there are several ways to increase awareness. And World IBD Day is a great day to commit to that! Here are some examples of ways you can get involved:

  • Share your IBD story with someone new
  • Use the power of social media by using the hashtags #WorldIBDDay and #UnitedWeStand
  • Dress for the occasion: wear purple or a purple ribbon as a symbol of awareness and support for those living with IBD
  • Attend a walk such as the Take Steps” walks all around the United States hosted by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation
  • Take part in more of the ways to take action from the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation

How to Support Someone with IBD

Looking for ways to support a loved one with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis? Here are some free informational resources.

Blog Posts


Printable Downloads

I am passionate about helping others feel better through nutrition. For this reason, I’ve created some free resources to help you begin your path to eating well.

Key Organizations

A one-day-per-year event can only capture a small part of what it’s like to for people with IBD to live with a chronic, invisible health condition. However, World IBD Day provides an opportunity for people from around to world to come together to increase awareness about their conditions and raise money to support research towards a cure.


About the Author

Picture of Danielle Gaffen, MS, RDN, LD

Danielle Gaffen, MS, RDN, LD

Understanding the link between nutrition and gut disease prompted me to obtain my master’s degree in Nutritional Sciences at San Diego State University and become an IBD Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Now I work with people who have Crohn’s and colitis who are struggling with confusion around what to eat. My favorite part is helping them to build confidence to eat without fear while managing their symptoms.

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