Is it Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Protenium Clinical Research

You’re dealing with abdominal pain and cramping. Maybe you have constipation or maybe you have diarrhea. You sometimes experience heartburn, nausea, and fatigue. What is going on in your body?! It could be irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

The symptoms of IBS vary greatly among affected individuals and often seem to have no pattern. Because of this, IBS is not easy to diagnose. Doctors often confuse the condition with celiac disease, endometriosis, bowel cancer, and Crohn’s disease. Many IBS patients undergo a large battery of tests and examinations before they are finally given a correct diagnosis.

However, in the past few years, the medical profession has made great strides in diagnosing IBS. They are beginning to see patterns in IBS symptoms and are improving the way they test for bowel irregularities.

If you think you may have IBS, be sure that your gastroenterologist is up-to-date with the most recent research and diagnostic methods concerning the condition. According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), a properly trained doctor will be able to diagnosis IBS by evaluating at your symptoms, doing a physical exam, and running a few tests.

Evaluating the symptoms                   

Gastrointestinal specialists have created a specific set of specifications for IBS symptoms called the “Rome Criteria.” Since 1990, they’ve revised this criteria three times and now have a very detailed list of physical symptoms associated with the condition:

  • IBS patients have reoccurring abdominal pain during at least three days of each month for a period of three months or longer. With this pain, IBS patients will experience two or three of these other symptoms:
    • The pain improves when the patient empties the bowels.
    • When the pain starts, there was a change in the frequency of bowel movements.
    • When the pain starts, there was a change in the way the stool was formed (i.e. diarrhea or hard stool)

On the other hand, there are some gastrointestinal symptoms that are not usually related to IBS. These symptoms often signal a different health condition:

  • Fever
  • Blood in the stool
  • Anemia
  • Weight loss
  • Symptoms that start after the age of 50
  • Family history of gastrointestinal diseases


After speaking with you about your symptoms, your doctor will want to run some medical tests. A few tests are necessary to diagnose IBS and rule out other conditions. But remember, your doctor shouldn’t be running every gastrointestinal test that exists!

  • Blood tests: These simple tests can make sure that you are otherwise healthy. The results will show if you have anemia, an infection, or excessive inflammation. A blood test may also be used to diagnose celiac disease.
  • Stool test: The lab will check your stool for signs of infection, parasites, or blood.
  • Colonoscopy: This test is done by inserting a scope internally and viewing the entire colon. The doctor will look at the inside of your intestines to look for signs of cancer, ulcers, or bleeding. Alternatively, the doctor may choose to perform a sigmoidoscopy, which is only looks at the lower part of the colon.

This revised method of diagnosing IBS is so much simpler than the old routine. It takes less time. It’s less taxing on the patient. It is less expensive for everyone. And, most importantly, it means that you can get the right treatment as soon as possible.

Enjoyed this article?  Try reading these as well . . .
Don’t Be a Victim of Your Symptoms: Talking to Your Doctor about IBS
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Does Your Bowel Need A Towel?

 Irritable bowel syndrome study

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