Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

  • Overview

    IBS is a common chronic gastrointestinal disorder that involves problems with motility (how the bowel moves contents through our intestines) and sensitivity (how the brain interprets sensations in the bowel). Those affected by IBS may experience recurrent abdominal pain and irregular bowel patterns that are often painful.  Symptoms are often chronic and intermittent and may last for months or years.

    The most common symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain and irregular bowel patterns that result in constipationdiarrhea, or alternating periods of both.

    Canada has one of the highest rates of IBS in the world with five million Canadians currently suffering. IBS affects significantly more women than men and is one of the most common causes for work and school absenteeism.

  • Guides

    Understanding Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

    IBS is a common chronic gastrointestinal disorder that involves problems with motility (how the bowel moves contents through our intestines) and sensitivity (how the brain interprets sensations in the bowel). 

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    Understanding Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation (IBS-C)

    Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common chronic gastrointestinal disorder that involves problems with motility (how the bowel moves contents through our intestines) and sensitivity (how the brain interprets pain sensations in the bowel).  

    ► View Guide



  • Frequently Asked Questions

    How is IBD different than IBS?

    Although both illnesses can be seriously debilitating, there are several primary differences between Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBD is an autoimmune disorder that causes swelling and ulcerations (sores) in the bowel. IBS involves problems with motility (how the bowel moves contents through our intestines) and sensitivity (how the brain interprets sensations in the bowel). Symptoms of IBS may wax and wane and possibly disappear altogether whereas IBD is a chronic condition.

    What is the cause of excessive flatulence and burping? What tests are required to confirm the cause and remedies (either food or medication) are available to help me?

    This is a common problem! We all pass gas and or experience burping but for some people, these symptoms can be really bothersome.  It is important to recognize that everyone has gas in the digestive tract.  When there is some gas and fluid in the intestines, movements (contractions) of the intestines to propel the contents onwards may cause rumblings. 

    There two major causes of excessive gas: 

    First, subconscious swallowing of air can result in excessive burping.  Eating slowly, avoiding gum chewing and smoking, rectifying problems that lead to phlegm accumulation in the back of the throat (such as postnasal drip), and correcting a habit of clearing the throat and swallowing can help minimize air swallowing.  Belching often induces instinctive reflex swallowing with further gas accumulation so you need to make a conscious effort not to swallow after each belch.

    And second, gas can form as a result of the breakdown of certain dietary items, especially carbohydrates, by bacteria normally present in the large intestine. Foods that cause gas include beans, broccoli, cabbage, fruit drinks, carbonated drinks, and dairy products.  Beano (obtainable over-the-counter) may help to reduce gas formation when you have a lot of vegetables and fruits at any meal.

    There is no one answer or diagnosis that applies to all people. I suggest that you contact your family doctor and discuss your symptoms and the tests he or she might want to do.

    Do you recommend colon hydrotherapy or enemas in support of colon health?

    There is no scientific basis that colonic hydrotherapy or enemas benefit a person's health. On the contrary, if a person has undiagnosed colonic symptoms and tries this approach, it can be associated with significant adverse consequences in the presence of underlying disease.

  • Related News

    Piecing the Puzzle Together

    When a bout of diarrhea and stomach pains assailed Madeleine Auger (a pseudonym) ten years ago, she shrugged it off as indigestion. It was only when the symptoms continued for six months, waxing and waning unpredictably, that Auger, 33, grew concerned.

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  • Videos

    Proper Bowel Prep Can Save Your Life

    Too many people skip potentially life-saving procedures because of misunderstandings and misconceptions about the bowel prep. However, most people who have had colonoscopies, will tell you it isn't nearly as bad as you think and that the benefits far outweigh the risks.  Robbie, Anne and Laurie, who range in age from 11 to 80 years,  openly share their experiences with you in this video.

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    Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

    Millions of Canadians suffer from IBS. Dr. Steve Somerton offers a series of options to help you get the diagnosis you need, understand the tests you may be sent to have and options for relieving symptoms. 

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    Gi BodyGuard App Preview

    Gi BodyGuard, developed by experts at the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation, is a free, easy to use app that allows you to track information about your health, symptoms, medications, food and exercise. 

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    Living Positively with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

    IBS is a common chronic digestive disorder that affects more than 5 million Canadians. Gastroenterologist, Dr. Stephen Vanner, helps you to better understand IBS: its symptoms, what IBS is not, factors that affect IBS, tests you may need to have, and how to manage your symptoms.

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    Constipation with Dr. David Armstrong

    At the 2012 CDHF Digestive Health Public Education Forum, Dr. David Armstrong gave an interesting and educational presentation on Constipation to a capacity crowd.

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    Colonoscopy

    Dr. Alan Barkun clearly explains what to expect if you are referred for a colonoscopy. This test allows doctors to examine the lining of the colon to evaluate and diagnose or treat abnormalities of the large intestine. It is a safe and effective way of detecting and removing polyps, treating rectal bleeding, offering early diagnosis and possibly providing therapy. Dr. Barkun clearly describes how to prepare, what to expect during and after the colonoscopy, highlights the benefits or the procedure and, suggests who should have a colonoscopy. 

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    IBS: Important Information From Canada's Experts

    Canada has one of the highest rates of IBS in the world. This syndrome impacts work, school, family and quality of life. This video features heartfelt discussions from people like you who are living with IBS and important information from Canada's experts.

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    IBS: The Mind-Gut Connection

    IBS is a common chronic digestive disorder that affects more than 5 million Canadians. It can be painful, debilitating and frustrating. IBS involves problems with motility (how we move contents through our intestines) and sensitivity (how the brain interprets sensations in the bowel). Gastroenterologist, Dr. Stephen Vanner, helps you to better understand IBS: its symptoms, what IBS is not, factors that affect IBS, tests you may need to have, and how to manage your symptoms.

    ► Watch Video

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