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mythical creature for world IBD day

19 Myths Debunked for World IBD Day!

May 19th is World IBD Day!

To celebrate this day of awareness, we’ve compiled and debunked 19 common IBD myths.

Post, share, Tweet, yell them from the rooftop to spread the word!

1. Myth: IBD is the same as IBS

Fact: While some of the symptoms overlap, these two conditions are not the same. As the name suggests, these diseases involve inflammation in the digestive tract. In contrast, IBS is a functional gastrointestinal disorder.

2. Myth: Crohn’s and UC are caused by what you eat

Fact: It is widely accepted that IBD is an autoimmune disease meaning the immune system is faulty and starts attacking normal, healthy tissues. While certain foods can trigger a flare for an individual, diet cannot cause or cure IBD.

3. Myth: IBD can be cured

Fact: Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis. While there are many supplements and diets that claim to have found the “magic solution,” research has yet to prove a cure.

4. Myth: If you have IBD, you’ll have to have your colon removed

Fact: Not everyone with IBD will have to have their colon removed. The surgical interventions used to treat Crohn’s or UC are completely based on the individual.

5. Myth: Diarrhea is the only symptom of Crohn’s and UC

Fact: Diarrhea is but one of many potential IBD symptoms. In fact, a survey we recently conducted on over 4000 individuals diagnosed with IBD indicated that fatigue is actually the most common and impactful symptom

6. Myth: If you stop eating gluten, your IBD will go away

Fact: Unlike Celiac’s disease, gluten will not cause or cure Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, though some individuals find it helps to relieve their symptoms

7. Myth: IBD isn’t a disability

Fact: In some cases, the physical and mental impact of IBD can limit an individual’s abilities and activities so severely that Social Security Disability benefits are granted. While each individual’s experience is different, inflammatory bowel diseases, as with many autoimmune conditions, are often disabling.

8. Myth: The same food will trigger a flare for all those with IBD

Fact: Trigger foods are different for everyone! While some people cannot handle fried foods, many others cannot easily digest vegetables. Some have problems with dairy while others have issues with artificial sweeteners. There is no one diet that works for everyone when it comes to avoiding flares.

9. Myth: The symptoms of IBD are all in your head

Fact: Not at all true! Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis can be difficult to diagnose as there is no single test that can confirm a diagnosis. Because of the difficulty in finding a cause for symptoms, it can often feel like no one believes you, or that your symptoms are psychological. But they are real and they are valid!

10. Myth: If you have your colon removed, you’ll be cured

Fact: While many individuals with IBD, especially those with UC, have found remission after a colectomy, the underlying disease has not been cured. There are many extra-intestinal manifestations of these diseases that may still linger even after surgery.

11. Myth: You can fix IBD fatigue by taking a nap and pushing through

Fact: You in the community agreed that IBD fatigue is on a whole different level than regular fatigue. While this can be difficult to understand for non-IBDers, the extreme exhaustion caused by IBD and other autoimmune diseases can make it almost impossible to manage daily activities such as cleaning, cooking, or even showering.

12. Myth: Crohn’s and UC only affect the digestive tract

Fact: As mentioned before, many of the symptoms of IBD are actually extra-intestinal, meaning outside the digestive tract. These symptoms include extreme joint pain, eye inflammation, fatigue, and more.

13. Myth: IBD is caused by stress

Fact: The idea that psychological factors cause Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis has been outdated since the 1990s. Recent studies provide little evidence that stress, life events, or mental illness cause IBD.

14. Myth: You can have both Crohn’s and UC

Fact: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are similar but mutually exclusive diseases – medically, an individual cannot be diagnosed with both. However, one can be diagnosed with Crohn’s Colitis which is often misunderstood to mean the individual has both diseases, when in fact Crohns Colitis means the pathology and biopsies indicate Crohn’s disease but it is limited to a person’s large intestine.

15. Myth: People living with IBD feel fine if they look fine.

Fact: IBD, like many chronic conditions, is an invisible illness, meaning many of the most impactful symptoms are not externally visible. This does not mean that the individual feels fine, however. Inflammation of the large or small intestine, for example, can be extremely painful, though invisible to the world.

16. Myth: You shouldn’t try to do “normal” things with IBD

Fact: While a diagnosis of Crohn’s or UC can be very upsetting, it does not mean that life is over or that a “normal” life is not possible. Treatments continue to evolve, as does the concept of “normal”

17. Myth: Remission is rare and unlikely to occur

Fact: Everyone is different and your chance for remission is as individual as fingerprints. Just because you hear a story, or read an article about one person’s inability to achieve remission does not mean that will be the case for you.

18. Myth: You’re alone

Fact: It can certainly feel like you’re alone in your management of IBD, especially when friends and family do not fully understand what you’re going through, but it’s important to know that you are NEVER alone! There are over 1.6 million others who get it, many of whom are a part of our community!

19. Myth: Increasing awareness of IBD won’t make a difference

Fact: Awareness is crucial. It can feel exhausting having to educate your friends, family, coworkers, about what inflammatory bowel disease is, but it is worth it! Every time someone else learns of the “behind the scenes” experience of IBD, that is one more person who will think before speaking, or extend empathy to someone else. Every share, Tweet, post, story helps!

What other IBD myths are in need of debunking today? Share in the comments!


  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    9 months ago

    Such a great post! Thanks for sharing this!

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

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