If you are, or you suspect you are experiencing irritable bowel syndrome, it is important for you to go see your physician.
Irritable bowel syndrome is generally diagnosed on the basis of a complete medical history, that includes a careful description of all the symptoms and a physical examination.
To make a diagnosis, your physician will ask you questions about your pain, when it comes on and what factors make it improve or worse. He or she may additionally ask you about your bowel movements, with questions about how often you open your bowels and what your feces look like.
Testing for IBS
IBS does not have a diagnostic method, but a variety of lab tests might be done to be able to eliminate other potential problems. Taking a fecal sample for testing and performing a complete blood count panel are just two of the possible labs that may be performed. Generally, a physician will perform a sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy, which allows them to look inside the colon.
This is done by inserting a small, flexible tube with a camera on the end of it through the anus. The camera then transfers the pictures of your colon onto a large screen for the physician to see it better.
A tissue sample may be taken during the procedure. The sample is removed from the colon wall and reviewed by the lab. This test helps to rule out more serious conditions such as ulcerative colitis.
Your physician might determine that you have IBS having reviewed your stated issues, frequency of stomach discomfort over the last 12 months, the beginning and cessation of discomfort relative to bowel movements, as well as how often your bowels move and whether your bowel has changed, if examining your colon comes back with no helpful information.
Like many illnesses, physicians match symptoms to a review of typical issues in order to determine whether a patient has IBS.
Indications that you may be experiencing IBS include stomach pain for a minimum of one week per month over the last year. The weeks of pain may be spread out or sporadic.
Stomach discomfort will have 2 of three of the following indicators:
- Pain disappears once you vacate your bowels.
- When it starts, there is a change in how often you have a bowel movement.
- Consistency or look of bowel movement is altered when pain begins.
Certain symptoms must also be present, such as:
- How often the bowel movements occur is altered
- A change in appearance of bowel movements
- Feelings of uncontrollable urgency to have a bowel movement
- Difficulty or inability to pass stool
- Mucus in the stool
High temperature, loss of weight, bleeding and ongoing strong discomfort are not indications of IBS but may be signs of other issues such as inflamed bowels or, sometimes, cancer.
If you exhibit characteristic IBS symptoms and are under 50, then you probably won’t need further tests.
However, if your doctor thinks your symptoms are unusual, such as losing weight or passing blood in your stools, then you may need other tests.
If bowel problems are in your family history, if you’re presenting symptoms of diarrhea-specific IBS or if you are more than 50 years old and this is the first time you are experiencing indications of IBS, you may be admitted to the hospital for additional testing. This is because all of these can be linked to more serious underlying bowel conditions..