This year’s theme for World IBD Day is “IBD has no age” to raise awareness of how the disease affects older adults. You can participate by wearing a purple ribbon, educating yourself, or joining an event.

Health awareness days give people the opportunity to increase recognition of a disease or condition that’s important to them. In addition to educating the public, health awareness days are empowering for people with the disease and their families. World IBD Day, celebrated annually on May 19, is one such opportunity.

If you or someone you care about has inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), read on to learn all about World IBD Day and how to participate.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a blanket term for two conditions that cause chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract:

The exact cause of these conditions is unknown, but experts believe a weakened immune system plays a large role.

IBD facts and stats

  • About 3.1 million U.S. adults have IBD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • More than two-thirds of people living with IBD are over the age of 45.
  • Most people receive an IBD diagnosis between the ages of 15 and 30.
  • A second peak occurs in older adults, with 10% to 15% of diagnoses occurring in adults over the age of 60.
  • Crohn’s disease is slightly more common among people assigned female at birth, while UC is slightly more common among people assigned male at birth, though this changes at different points in life, likely due to hormonal changes.
  • Non-Hispanic white people have the highest rates of IBD, followed by Hispanic people.
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The mission of World IBD Day is to improve the lives of people living with this disease. Educational events geared toward informing the public about IBD will take place worldwide. Lobbying efforts geared toward generating research for a cure will also take place in many countries.

World IBD Day originated in 2010 during Digestive Disease Week. Since then, it has become a large, international project with events in over 50 countries across 5 continents.

This massive effort is coordinated by the European Federation of Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis Associations (EFCCA), with the help of patient organizations operating within each country. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation oversees World IBD Day initiatives In the United States.

As it was in 2022, the theme for 2023 is “IBD has no age.” To learn more about how IBD affects older adults, EFCCA will be launching a survey based on the need of people with this condition who are 60+ years old. The survey will focus on quality of care and quality of life issues within this population.

What color ribbon is worn for IBD awareness?

During World IBD Day, people show their support by wearing purple ribbons. Famous landmarks and buildings around the globe will also be illuminated in purple.

If you would like to receive ribbons to support an awareness campaign, contact Luisa Avedano, Chief Executive Officer of EFCCA, at

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Find an event

You can learn about events in your area by contacting your local Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation chapter.

You can also initiate your own grassroots event. Awareness event ideas include:

  • neighborhood walkathons
  • tag sale fundraisers
  • informal educational seminars

The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation is a good resource for additional ideas and free educational materials. Contact them at 800-932-2423 or

Learn about World IBD Day events in other countries.

Wear purple

If you can’t attend an event, you can wear a purple ribbon throughout the day and take the opportunity to discuss IBD with people you meet in your daily life.

Some people wear purple from head to toe to bring even more attention to the cause. You can even put a purple bandana on your pet and use their walks as an outreach opportunity.

Educate yourself

You can learn more about IBD through various resources on the web. You may also consider registering for online learning programs.

Online IBD learning resources

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Download an app

We Can’t Wait is a restroom finder app that allows you to find the nearest restroom. The app identifies both public restrooms and those in private businesses that support people with IBD.

Even if you don’t have IBD, you can download the app and add to its growing database of over 50,000 restrooms.

Complete a survey

The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation invites you to take a brief survey to offer feedback on how we can help create a “gut-friendly world.”

Share on social media

Share information about World IBD Day on social media by using the hashtags #IBDhasnoage and #WorldIBDday2023.

Make a donation

Nonprofits require financial support to keep the lights on, the website humming, and running their various programs. Donations are always welcome and needed.

Consider making a financial or in-kind donation to the IBD organization of your choice. If you wish to earmark the purpose of your donation for research, patient care, or general expenses, you can generally do so.

Know the difference

IBD is a chronic autoimmune disease that can make life challenging, exhausting, and painful. Many people accidentally confuse IBD with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). These are two separate conditions. If someone you care about has IBD, your first step is not to mistake one condition for the other when you provide support.

Listen more

Listening is often a better support strategy than jumping in with suggestions (unless asked). Keep in mind that your friend or loved one with IBD has probably done more research on their condition than you have and certainly understands their symptoms better.

Be understanding

IBD flare-ups can disrupt someone’s plans without warning. Be understanding if your friend has to cancel a planned get-together at the last minute. They’re likely more upset and frustrated than you are.

Remember to remain a friend. It can be hard to reach out for support, even when it’s needed most. Let your friend know you’re solidly in their corner, through good days and bad, no matter what.

Answer the call

You may be able to offer tangible support to someone with IBD, especially if they need a medical procedure. This could be providing transportation, helping with meal preparation, or helping with child or pet care arrangements.

In addition to World IBD Day, make a note of these awareness days, weeks, and months:

  • May 6 to 9: Digestive Disease Week
  • May 29: World Digestive Health Day
  • November: IBD Awareness Month (Canada)
  • December 1 to 7: Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week

World IBD Day takes place on May 19. This international event is an opportunity to show your support and increase awareness of IBD.

Small actions like wearing a purple ribbon or sharing information on social media can be helpful. But it’s also important to educate yourself about the disease and listen to the experiences of people in your life with IBD.