IBS Facts

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common chronic gastrointestinal disorder. Persons suffering from IBS may experience abdominal pain, irregular bowel movements, and painful diarrhea. Symptoms may appear at an early age and are often chronic and intermittent and may last for months or years. If you’ve been diagnosed with IBS, you are not alone.

Find out more about the symptoms, treatments and about managing the disorder.

IBS Facts

A Significant Cost to the Economy

In Canada, the economic and health-care related costs of IBS exceed $6.5 billion annually. Causing frequent work and school absenteeism, IBS can significantly erode an individual’s productivity and quality of life. Canadians suffering from IBS miss an average of 13 work days a year - approximately $8 billion of lost productivity annually. Hospitals rate IBS as the 4th most expensive digestive disease in Canada.

IBS Statistics

A significant cost to quality of life

Canada has one of the highest rates of IBS in the world with 5 million Canadians suffering from the disorder. 120,000 Canadians develop IBS each year.

  • IBS affects significantly more women than men.
  • It is one of the most common causes for work and school absenteeism.
  • Maritime Provinces have the highest rates of IBS cases in Canada with Newfoundland coming in first place.
  • Obesity can increase the severity of IBS symptoms.
  • People with IBS have a normal life expectancy, but in more severe cases, may have a diminished quality of life.
  • IBS patients tend to experience more disruptive sleep patterns, including taking longer to fall asleep, repeated nighttime waking, resulting in waking tired and feeling drowsy throughout the day.
  • People sometimes confuse inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) with irritable bowel syndrome. The main difference between these conditions is that in IBS, there is no evidence of inflammation or infection.
  • IBS patients tend to suffer from additional conditions such as migraine headaches, depression, chronic pain and fibromyalgia.

  • About 40% only of IBS sufferers actually seek medical attention. Those with milder symptoms typically end up self-treating through food avoidance and self-medicating with non-prescription remedies.
  • Patients with IBS represent the majority of referrals to gastroenterologists.
  • IBS can begin in childhood, adolescence or adulthood and can be a lifelong condition or disappear completely at any time but can also unexpectedly reoccur at a later time.
  • Women consult physicians about IBS more frequently than men do and constipation-predominant IBS (IBS-C) is more common in females.
  • IBS is sometimes difficult to diagnose and may lead to multiple doctors’ visits and tests to determine the cause of the symptoms. It is sometimes misdiagnosed or under diagnosed, delaying adequate treatment and relief of symptoms.

Research into IBS is ongoing and we hope to see improvements in treatments.