Gastrointestinal Society steps up to help patients this IBS Awareness Month

Vancouver, BC – April 10, 2017 – To mark irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) Awareness Month this April, the Gastrointestinal Society has released the results of a recent survey of 2,961 Canadians living with IBS, in which three-quarters say that their symptoms interfere with everyday life,1 and almost half of respondents have missed school or work because of the chronic disorder.2 Additionally, almost half indicated they experience poor quality of life in an average month due to IBS.3

“Millions of Canadians are suffering alone,” said Gail Attara, president and chief executive officer, Gastrointestinal Society. “By providing educational resources to those affected by IBS, we strive to elevate awareness about this debilitating condition, so individuals feel comfortable discussing their symptoms and can take steps toward improving their overall health and wellbeing.”

IBS is a chronic, functional gastrointestinal disorder with symptoms that include abdominal pain, bloating, and altered bowel behaviours, such as constipation and/or diarrhea, or alternating between the two.4 In IBS, the function, or movement, of the bowel is not quite right.5 An estimated four to six million Canadians live with IBS.6 It is the most common gastrointestinal condition worldwide and the most common disorder presented by patients consulting a gastrointestinal specialist (gastroenterologist).7

Although it can occur at any age, even in children, IBS most commonly affects individuals of working age.8 The disease has a profound impact on virtually every aspect of a person’s life, but many suffer in silence.

This April, the GI Society is leading a number of initiatives to help shine a spotlight on this impactful condition by providing educational resources and support to Canadians living with IBS, including:


  • BadGut® Lecture Series: An educational forum for those living with IBS in the Greater Toronto Area on April 19 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Dr. James R. Gray, gastroenterologist and co-author of the study, will be speaking about the physical and emotional effects of IBS, nutritional needs, and treatment options. Registration for this free event is available online.
  • IBS Support Group: For those with IBS living in the Vancouver area, a local support group will be kicking-off this month to exchange information, offer support, share experiences, and discuss coping strategies on an ongoing basis. The group will meet on the last Wednesday of the month, and this information is available online.
  • Educational Videos & Resources: Canadians across the country affected by IBS now have access to comprehensive multi-media evidence-based information on the condition, including diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment. IBS videos are available for a quick overview online.


“As someone who has struggled with IBS for more than 15 years, I often find I downplay or hide the pain I’m experiencing because it’s easier than talking about it,” says Michelle Sewell, a person living with IBS who completed the survey. “Over the years I’ve heard from co-workers, friends and even family, how I look fine or great. My insides almost always tell a very different story. For me, this pressure to keep up appearances while suffering can be one of the hardest things to do. Along with it inevitably comes great anxieties, stress, loneliness and even sadness.”

As the Canadian leader in providing trusted, evidence-based information on all areas of the gastrointestinal tract, the GI Society is committed to improving the lives of people with GI and liver conditions, supporting research, advocating for appropriate patient access to health care, and promoting gastrointestinal and liver health. To learn more about the GI Society, including information on digestive diseases and disorders, visit:


For more information, please contact:

Gail Attara, CEO
Gastrointestinal Society
(604) 873-4876
gail [at]

Courtney McNamara
(416) 849-3149
courtney.mcnamara [at]

1. IBS Survey Results.
2. Ibid
3. Ibid
4. Gastrointestinal Society. Symptom Chart. Accessed March 28, 2017.
5. Gastrointestinal Society. IBS Overview. Accessed March 28, 2017.
6. Hidden Costs: The Economic Impact of IBS.
7. Ibid.
8. Gastrointestinal Society. IBS Overview. Accessed March 28, 2017.