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IBS Diagnosis

How is IBS diagnosed?

Diagnosing Irritable Bowel Syndrome may well be the heart of what IBS suffers struggle with. Irritable bowel syndrome, by most measure, might well be the most difficult gastrointestinal functional disorder to diagnosis. Recent studies declare to have found that IBS suffers have a significantly lower quality of life then patients free from the disorder. It also suggests that the illness/disorder is seriously under diagnosed.

Irritable bowel syndrome may well be the most difficult functional GI disorder for doctors from a diagnostic stand point. Because of the difficult diagnosis and lack of curative treatment it may well be the hardest for patients to deal with as well. A recent study found that patients with IBS have a significantly lower quality of life than patients without the syndrome, and that the illness is seriously under diagnosed.

Of those that seek medical attention, 70 percent have mild symptoms, about 25 percent have mild to moderate symptoms, and accordingly about 5 percent have moderate to severe symptoms that cause a significant disruption to their aforementioned quality of life. Symptoms usually begin in young adult hood, but can occur in children and for some the onset of symptomology does not occur until later in adult life. In all fairness there is no age group that is immune to contracting the disorder

The first step in the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome is to seek professional medical advice, in other words see your doctor. IBS is generally diagnosed by competent medical professionals reviewing the complete patient medical history. If you think you have IBS, seeing your doctor is without a doubt the first step.

There is no one magic test that can render a competent, definitive diagnosis for irritable bowel syndrome. In fact there is no specific test for it at all; rather diagnosis is achieved through the elimination of known possibilities. That statement reminds me of a quote from an old Sherlock Holmes book, “That when you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." The truth being that after doctors have eliminated all possible causes of abdominal pain and detectable bowel disease and dysfunction, then and only then do they usually arrive at a diagnosis for irritable bowel syndrome

Because IBS shares some symptoms with some much more life threatening diseases, it is important to give your health care provider as much information as possible so a proper diagnosis can be achieved, in the least amount of time. There have been horror stories of lost fortunes and 20 years of suffering with extreme symptoms because of improper communication between doctor and patient. It is understandable that doctors want to exhaust all possibilities before giving into a diagnosis for a disorder that has no known detectable cause or cure.

The problem with this type of diagnosis is that over time, some sufferer experience periods of time without symptoms, some go weeks or even months without symptoms. Some start with minor symptoms, and gradually over time the symptoms worsen, and or change characteristically how they present themselves. And with the trend in medicine to serve patients on an available physician basis in larger and larger medical facilities, it becomes more and more likely that tests are over looked or repeated for changing symptomology with the same negative results. This coupled with the rising cost of health care over all, and the likely hood that the patient will have to pay for a greater portion of these very pricy test, the diagnosis by one physician may well be interrupted and possibly lost in the shuffle. Because of this each time the diagnostic process begins again in what can seem an endless cycle, costing more and more money, with out results and with no clear diagnosis. It sounds far fetched, but it happens.

This is a list of test that may be encountered for the diagnosis of IBS, but by no means is all inclusive. Each patient’s case will be unique and each physicians approach to a diagnosis will vary according to the information each patient provides.

  • Blood test- to determine in abnormalities such as diabetes and anemia
  • Stool sampling, to test for the presents of parasites, blood or abnormal presents of bacteria that might indicate an intestinal infection.
  • Urine test- looking for blood, which could indicate kidney stones. Stones are associated with pain the back and sides as can also be associated with IBS
  • Ultra sound may be preformed to determine if there are any gal stones in the gal bladder.
  • C.A.T. scan or Computed Axial Tomography. A process where by computers are used to generate a three-dimensional image from flat x-ray type imagery, one section or grid at a time, specific to the area of interest
  • Colonoscopy, to determine if there might be any diseased tissue of the colon, which is characteristic of some other disease such as Ulcerative Colitis

Negative results from these kinds of test, could bring the doctor to conclude a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome, if certain factors exist in your medical history that match a loose criteria for IBS diagnosis. Some of the symptoms may include but are not limited to how often you have abdominal pain over a period of time, and when the pain begins in relation to abnormal bowel function. Certain symptoms may also be present for a doctor to render an irritable bowel syndrome diagnosis, such as changes in frequency of bowel movements, changes in appearance of bowel movements difficulty or inability to pass stool, mucus in the stool and or bloating


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