How to Diagnose Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  Irritating.  Do I Have It?

Make no mistake, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS for short), is real.  It is not all “in your head.” The pain, the cramping, the diarrhea and the constipation are real, and your proctologist, also known as a colon and rectal surgeon, can help diagnose and treat it.  In IBS, your colon appears normal, but functions incorrectly, leading to the symptoms.

There is a set of criteria, known as the Rome criteria, that defines those who suffer with this malady.  IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion; other illnesses must be ruled out.

The Rome Criteria.

The criteria for making a diagnosis of IBS are:

  • 12 non-consecutive weeks of abdominal pain or discomfort.  This is the single most important symptom.
  • A change in the frequency or quality of the stool (diarrhea, constipation) and a varying frequency of bowel movements.
  • Straining at stool.
  • Mucus in the stool.
  • Bloating.

Working with your doctor, you will be able to see whether you fit the IBS pattern. Importantly, you must be sure that you do not have symptoms pointing to another condition.  These other symptoms include persistent diarrhea, age of onset over 50 years old, fever, rectal bleeding, unexplained weight loss, nausea and or vomiting.

What Next?

IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion and other illnesses must be ruled out.  What might your doctor do prior to finalizing a diagnosis of IBS?

  • Stool cultures, to be sure that you do not have an infection.
  • An in-office proctosigmoidoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy to look at the lower part of your colon, also known as the large intestine.
  • Blood tests to look for generalized inflammation or celiac disease.
  • A colon evaluation by either a colonoscopy, a barium enema or a virtual colonoscopy.
  • Your physician may order an abdominal ultrasound or CT scan.
  • If you think that are lactose intolerant, your doctor may want to be sure of this, as altering your diet may alleviate your symptoms.

Where To Turn: Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates.

The surgeons of Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates are board certified and have expertise in the treatment of IBS.  A simple phone call to schedule an appointment for a consultation will begin the process.  Our phone number is (310)273-2310.  Your consultation will be confidential and you will have the time you need to ask questions and begin to formulate a treatment plan.