IBD Awareness Month

November is IBD Awareness Month


Written by: CDHF

Updated: December 1st, 2022

November is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Awareness Month in Canada, also known as Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Month. IBD involves chronic inflammation of all or part of the digestive tract. The umbrella term includes two separate disorders that cause inflammation and ulceration of the small and large intestine: ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD). IBD can be painful and debilitating and may even lead to life-threatening complications.

Canada has one of the highest rates of IBD in the world. In 2018, about 270,000 Canadians were living with IBD: 135,000 with CD, 120,000 with UC, and the remainder with unclassified disease.1 The 21st century pushed the prevalence of IBD on a steep upward curve, and if the current trend continues as predicted, the number of affected Canadians will rise to 400,000—about 1% of the population—by 2030.While IBD typically strikes people in the prime of life, seniors (aged 65+) represent the fastest-growing group of Canadians with the disease.Rates of IBD have also surged in children, and over 7,000 Canadians under 18 now live with the disease.1

In the past century, IBD primarily affected Caucasians of Western European ancestry, but the pattern has shifted in recent years. While immigrants from developing countries are less likely to have IBD than people born in Canada, those who arrive at younger ages have a higher risk than those who arrive later in life. What’s more, children of immigrants from Africa, South Asia and the Middle East develop IBD at the same rate as children born to Canadian residents.1 In brief, IBD now affects Canadians of all origins, including formerly low-risk groups.

Ulcerative colitis vs. Crohn’s disease: similarities and differences 3,6

Ulcerative Colitis

Risk Factors: Former smoking

Age of Onset: Two diagnosis peaks. 15-40 & 50-80

Pattern of Onset: Typically gradual

Chronicity: Lifelong

Pattern of inflammation: Continuous along a portion of the GI tract, always involving the rectum

Depth of Inflammation: Usually present only in the inner lining of the large intestine

Bleeding: Common during bowel movements

Pain: Typically in the lower left abdomen

Crohn’s Disease

Risk Factors: Smoking, family history, geographical location, ethnicity

Age of onset: Usually before 30, though global incidence is rising in people aged 65+

Pattern of onset: Gradual or sudden

Chronicity: Lifelong

Pattern of inflammation: Alternating diseased and healthy segments (skip lesions)

Depth of inflammation: Ulcers can penetrate the entire thickness of the intestinal lining

Bleeding: Uncommon

Pain: Abdominal cramping based on location of inflammation, lower back pain due to small intestine involvement

All through November, we will be sharing the most frequently asked questions on IBD from patients. Follow along by visiting our social media pages and following #IBDAwarenessMonth! 

New Resources for IBD Awareness Month

2022 IBD Nurse-Centred Care Impact Report

This report grew out of an increasing awareness, supported by global clinical experiences and guidelines, that Canada could provide better care to IBD patients. There is a particular need and opportunity to expand the use of nurses with special training in IBD. These nurses provide high value across several dimensions of IBD care, and studies continue to show that an enhanced role for IBD nurses improves the quality, outcomes, and cost-effectiveness of care. Lacking sufficient numbers, IBD nurses working in Canada today are left to “put out fires,” rather than making full use of their skills.

To capture the value of IBD nurses and identify gaps in how this resource is being used in Canada, the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation (CDHF) conducted in-depth surveys and interviews with four groups of IBD stakeholders: nurses, gastroenterologists, patients, and caregivers.

This report summarizes the findings from this original research, presents relevant literature from other parts of the world, and makes recommendations for a national strategy to improve IBD care that includes an enhanced role for IBD nurses.

CDHF Talks: Benefits and Risks of IBD Therapies with Dr. Yvette Leung

Webinar: Transitioning from Pediatric to Adult IBD

Other Resources to View and Share this Month:

Diet & Lifestyle

More Resources

Treatment Options

This campaign was made possible due to an unrestricted educational grant from Pfizer Canada,  RxConnect, and Bausch Health. 


  1. Crohn’s & Colitis Canada. 2018 impact of IBD in Canada. https://crohnsandcolitis.ca/Crohns_and_Colitis/documents/reports/2018-Impact-Report-LR.pdf
  2. Crohn’s & Colitis Canada. Getting diagnosed. https://crohnsandcolitis.ca/About-Crohn-s-Colitis/IBD-Journey/Diagnosis-and-Testing/Getting-Diagnosed
  3. Walsham NE, Sherwood RA. Clin Exp Gastroenterol 2016;9:21.
  4. Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. Understanding IBD medications. https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/pdfs/understanding-ibd-medications-brochure-final.pdf
  5. Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. Surgery. https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/campus-connection/surgery
  6. Canadian Association of Gastroenterology (CAG) clinical practice guidelines. JCAG 2019;2:e1.

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