Even with nearly 500 different causes represented by awareness ribbons, there are those that are not. Here are a few that we found that do not appear to be associated with a specific ribbon color:
- Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy – Knowledge about this condition has become much more widespread in recent years due to a number of well-known sports figures being diagnosed. CTE appears to be caused by repeated blows to the head sustained over a series of years. It's most often seen in military veterans and athletes, including boxers and football players.
- Cooley's Anemia – Also known as thalassemia major, Cooley's anemia is a genetic blood disorder characterized by the absence of beta protein in the blood. Without this protein, blood cells cannot carry sufficient oxygen, leading to significant problems throughout multiple organ systems. People with this condition must have frequent blood transfusions and typically do not live a normal lifespan.
- Frostbite – While mild (first degree) frostbite can cause numbness and superficial damage to the top layers of the skin, more serious or "deep" frost bite can lead to long-term sensitivity to cold, persistent pain, severe damage to the skin and deeper tissues, and even permanent damage as tissue dies.
- Shingles – Caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chicken pox, shingles affects more than 200,000 people each year. This infection is rarely dangerous, but frequently causes a severe, painful rash. In some cases, shingles can cause complications, including neurological problems, skin infections, and vision loss.
- Musculoskeletal Disorders – While spinal disorders are represented with a cream ribbon, musculoskeletal disorders in general do not have one unifying awareness color. Other individual conditions that do have colors include degenerative disc disease (cream) and spinal cord injuries (lime).
Perhaps we don't need a new ribbon for every condition – or maybe sticking to something like the zebra-stripe ribbon, which represents all those many rare diseases for which there is no specific designated color, is a solution to the overabundance of colors. But there's nothing wrong in raising awareness and showing support for those who are living with the challenges those ribbons represent. Find your ribbon, ribbon pin, or ribbon charm and wear it with pride. And maybe choose one with the name of the cause printed on it to make your cause crystal clear.