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50 Statistics on Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – 2024

Irritable bowel syndrome is a relatively common condition of the digestive system. It is known to cause both physical symptoms as well as emotional stress affecting daily life. It is diagnosed using the Rome Criteria which is listed below.

Recurrent abdominal pain on average at least 1 day/week in the last 3 months, associated with two or more of the following criteria:

  1. Related to defecation
  2. Associated with a change in frequency of stool
  3. Associated with a change in form (appearance) of stool

Here are 53 statistics on IBS categorized by prevalence, symptoms, treatment and comorbidities. 

Prevalence of IBS

1. It is estimated that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects up to 5-10% of individuals worldwide, making it one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders. (International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders)

2. Studies suggest that about 12 percent of people in the United States have IBS. (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease)

3. About 2 in 3 IBS sufferers are female. About 1 in 3 IBS sufferers are male. (International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders)

4. IBS is most prevalent in South America at approximately 21% and least prevalent in Southeast Asia at 7%. (Journal of American Medical Association)

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5. Approximately 20% of all cases occur in people between the ages of 20-30 years old, whereas about 28% of all cases occur in people between the ages of 40-50 years old. (Gastro Florida)

6. The estimated pooled prevalence of post-infection IBS is 11%. (American Journal of Gastroenterology)

7. Postinfection IBS is more commonly seen in women, those exposed to antibiotics, and when there is a history of anxiety or depression. (American Journal of Gastroenterology)

8. Of patients with a parasitic cause of enteritis, 41.9% develop IBS vs 13.8% of patients who had a bacterial infection. (American Journal of Gastroenterology)

9. Statistics show that [IBS] makes up about 25% of chronic bowel disease cases reported in North America. (Gastro Florida)

10. Over half of IBS sufferers (57%) said that the embarrassment of talking about it has held them back, even causing them to keep the condition hidden from friends and colleagues. (IBS Network)

11. The proportion of twin pairs who both have IBS is less than 20%  and the association seen in familial clustering is significantly reduced when somatization is adjusted for. These findings suggest heredity may be more closely linked to learned behavior than to genetic factors. (Journal of Clinical Epidemiology)

Symptoms of IBS

12. Four out of five people reported pain as the most frequent factor contributing to the severity of their IBS. (International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders)

Woman sitting up in bed holding her stomach.

13. Women are more likely to report abdominal pain and constipation, whereas men are more likely to report diarrhea. (American Journal of Gastroenterology)

14. It has been estimated that between 8.5 and 21.6 days a year are taken off work due to IBS. (Frontiers in Medicine)

15. Almost three-quarters (70%) say IBS is a “debilitating” medical condition that occupies their lives daily. (IBS Network)

16. 1 year after initial diagnosis, 30%–45% of patients will have prolonged periods that are symptom free, potentially in remission. (Journal of Clinical Epidemiology)

17. After 10 years, 50%–70% of patients report persistent symptoms. (Journal of Clinical Epidemiology)

18. Diarrhea-predominant IBS patients are more likely to report pain and urgency with each bowel movement, whereas constipation-predominant patients report substantially more symptoms and impaired functioning in between bowel movements. (American Journal of Clinical Epidemiology)

19. Patients with IBS are more likely than the general population to report adverse reactions to food, with prevalence rates as high as 50%. (American Journal of Clinical Epidemiology)

20. Sensitivity to gluten is one of the most commonly reported food intolerance by patients with IBS. (American Journal of Clinical Epidemiology)

21. 1 study reported that a majority of patients would give up 10–15 years of life expectancy for an instant cure for their condition. (American Journal of Gastroenterology)

22. 1 study found that patients with IBS would accept a median risk of sudden death of 1% if a hypothetical medication could cure their IBS symptoms. (American Journal of Gastroenterology)

23. IBS sufferers highlighted the hidden mental stress associated with their symptoms and cited the thoughts that most occupy their minds daily:

  • Having total privacy (completely enclosed spaces) in the bathroom (28%).
  • Timing meals around times when there is easy access to facilities (21%).
  • Having to avoid certain foods, especially in situations where choice is unavailable (17%).
  • Finding time in the day to avoid work or high-stress situations that can bring on symptoms -without managers noticing absence (11%). (IBS Network)

Treatment of IBS

24. Approximately 20 to 40% of all visits to gastroenterologists are due to IBS symptoms. (International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders)

25. There are approximately 3.6 million physician office visits related to IBS every year, resulting in healthcare costs of more than $30 billion. (Frontiers in Medicine)

Bundles of money sitting next to a piggy bank made from gold.

26. Despite the millions of people affected, only about half of those with IBS symptoms go to their healthcare provider for help. (Medical News Today)

27. Regarding treating diarrhea, in two RCTs, each recruiting almost 600 patients, Rifaximin 500 mg three times daily for 14 days was superior to placebo. (New England Journal of Medicine)

28. Current pharmacological therapies usually target diarrhea and constipation subtypes, although IBS is characterized by 4 distinct subtypes: IBS-D, IBS-C, IBS-M, and those without a significant pattern of abnormal stool (IBS-U). More than half of patients with IBS change predominant subtype over a 1-year period; therefore, clarification of subtype should be performed routinely. (American Journal of Clinical Epidemiology)

29. An online survey of people with IBS revealed that many had a negative view of their relationship with healthcare professionals, with concerns about not being heard and a lack of empathy. (Frontline Gastroenterology)

30. A meta-analysis from 2008 identified 22 studies comparing 12 different antispasmodics with placebo in 1778 patients. Fewer patients assigned to antispasmodics had persistent symptoms after treatment compared with those taking placebo. (British Medical Association)

31. In one survey of over 1000 patients, more than 90% wanted their doctor to give comprehensive information about IBS and provide sources for additional information, to listen well and answer questions, and to provide information about medication. Unfortunately, in recalling their prior experiences of healthcare, only 40% felt that their doctor provided information, 64% felt they had been listened to and 47% felt supported. (Frontline Gastroenterology)

A patient sitting in front of a healthcare practitioner who is holding a clip board.

32. Patients often wait for around 4 years before their IBS is diagnosed. (Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology)

33. Nearly 2,000 people with IBS reported in a survey that they didn’t receive a diagnosis of IBS until over 6.5 years after they first started having symptoms. (International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders)

34. In 2 identically designed, large-scale double-blind studies, Rifaximin resulted in a significant benefit over placebo. In the month after a short (2-week) course of Rifaximin, 40.8% of subjects had an improvement in both abdominal pain and stool consistency compared with 31.7% with placebo. (American Journal of Gastroenterology)

35. A recent meta-analysis summarized 5 controlled trials using Rifaximin in patients with IBS-D. Even after 3 treatments with Rifaximin, no stable resistance was seen in the microbiome. (American Journal of Gastroenterology)

Comorbidities of IBS

36. An estimated 20 percent of those affected by IBS also have symptoms of other gastrointestinal disorders. (Medical News Today)

37. There is no evidence that IBS is associated with an increased mortality risk. (Journal of Clinical Epidemiology)

38. In patients who do report IBS symptom resolution, 45% will subsequently experience other functional gastrointestinal symptoms. (Journal of Clinical Epidemiology)

39. Up to two-thirds of IBS patients experience functional dyspepsia, the prevalence of which in patients with IBS is up to seven times higher than in controls. (Journal of Clinical Epidemiology)

40. A 2019 review of 38 studies found that the following characteristics and conditions may increase the risk of IBS:

  • Having gastroenteritis
  • Being younger than approximately 35 years or older than 65 years
  • A history of anxiety or depression
  • Stress
  • A family history of IBS
  • Pain
  • Sleep disorders  (Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics)

41. Studies have also shown altered gut immune activation and intestinal and colonic microbiome are associated with IBS. (Journal of American Medical Association)

42. Those with lower quality of life and higher levels of anxiety are more likely to suffer with other functional comorbid conditions. (Journal of Clinical Epidemiology)

43. In a large US study, the rate of colon polyps was lower in patients with IBS compared with healthy controls. (American Journal of Gastroenterology)

44. Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic back pain, chronic pelvic pain, chronic headache, and temporomandibular joint dysfunction exist in approximately half of all patients with IBS, and occur almost twice as often as in the general population. (Journal of Clinical Epidemiology)

45. Research suggests a link between IBS and food poisoning. In fact, 1 in 9 people who experience food poisoning develops IBS at a later date. (Medical news today)

46. Patients who have IBS and other somatic comorbidities report more severe symptoms than those patients with IBS alone. (Journal of Clinical Epidemiology)

47. Over one-half of all patients with IBS report depression or anxiety, and these patients experience more severe somatic symptoms. (Journal of Clinical Epidemiology)

Woman holding a sign over her face that says depression.

48. Symptoms of IBS have considerable overlap with organic gastrointestinal and pelvic pathologies. Consequently, patients with IBS are at risk of undergoing unnecessary surgical procedures due to misdiagnosis. The likelihood of having cholecystectomy is between 2 and 3 times as high in IBS as in the general public, and patients with IBS are almost twice as likely to have appendectomies or hysterectomies. (Journal of Clinical Epidemiology)

49. Pooled odds ratios (ORs) from the world’s literature showed an increased likelihood of positive antiendomysial antibodies and/or tissue transglutaminase antibodies (2.75, 95% CI 1.35–5.61) and biopsy-proven celiac disease (4.48, 95% CI 2.33–4.60) in patients with IBS symptoms compared with controls. (American Journal of Gastroenterology)

50. In the absence of alarm symptoms, the prevalence of inflammatory bowel disease in patients with IBS is low; however, after 5 years of symptoms, the incidence is 2.6–5 times higher than in controls. (American Journal of Gastroenterology)

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