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World IBD Day 2020

World IBD Day 2020

In these times, there is a lot of attention for the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. At Janssen, we contribute to the fight against the virus, for example with the development of a vaccine. Nevertheless, we also stay committed to people with other diseases such as IBD. May 19th is World IBD Day: on this day, we put the spotlight on the impact that this disease has on daily life, e.g. the severe fatigue that many people with IBD experience.

What is IBD?

IBD is a collective term for chronic inflammatory bowel disease. It is an immune-mediated disease: this means that the immune system attacks the body’s healthy cells, causing inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. The two most common forms of IBD are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Although these two diseases are quite similar, they differ in one important aspect: the location of the inflammation. The inflammation of Crohn's disease can occur all over the digestive tract, while the inflammation of ulcerative colitis occurs only in the large intestine.4

More than 30.000 Belgians live with IBD, and over 500 new cases of Crohn’s disease and 350 new cases of ulcerative colitis are diagnosed each year. The disease is often detected at a relatively young age, between the age of 15 and 30.5

IBD and fatigue

One of the complaints most people with IBD suffer from is severe fatigue. Of course, we all get tired after a stressful day at work or after a challenging workout, but in the case of people living with IBD, fatigue can occur even without a clear connection to exertion.5

Complaints of fatigue are experienced differently: some people with IBD suffer from 'flashes', making them tired all of a sudden. others experience fatigue all the time.6 There are a number of medical explanations for severe fatigue, including the fact that the body is not able to properly absorb nutrients as a result of inflammation. Iron deficiency (as a result of blood loss) and the need for frequent toilet visits at night also contribute to fatigue symptoms.6 In the case of chronic fatigue, IBD patients can be less focused and experience concentration problems. this, of course, has a major impact on both their professional as well as their social life.


Fatigue is just one of the challenges that people with IBD face. Other challenges, such as being dependent on toilets, as a consequence having difficulties travelling, and the dietary restrictions they are facing can seriously disrupt their daily lives. At Janssen, we are aware of these challenges. That is why we are committed each day to make IBD disappear. We do so by continuing to look for innovative therapies and by continuing to raise awareness for this relatively unknown and invisible disease.

Will you help us put the spotlight on IBD? Join the conversation on our social media channels and use the hashtag #IBDisappear

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