How To Diagnose IBS?
In diagnosing irritable bowel syndrome, your symptoms and their severity are only part of the picture. Other causes need to be ruled out. Is it really IBS or possibly another condition?
See your doctor if you think you may have IBS. Your doctor will ask you questions about your health, ask about your symptoms, and examine you. He or she may even perform a rectal exam. There are no tests that can show for sure that you have IBS.
Your doctor may also perform medical tests to rule out other diseases if you have “red flag” symptoms such as:
- Rectal bleeding
- Weight loss
- Anemia (iron deficiency)
- Nighttime symptoms, like diarrhea that awakens you
- Family history of colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or celiac disease
Medical tests include a colonoscopy (KOH-lon-oss-koh-pee). The doctor looks inside the large intestine by inserting a scope with a tiny camera to spot inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, and ulcers. People over age 50 with IBS symptoms should also have a colonoscopy to screen for colorectal cancer, even if they don’t have any “red flag” symptoms.
A doctor may also perform a blood test to check for celiac disease if you have certain types of IBS. These types are IBS-D (mostly diarrhea) or IBS-M (mixed type with diarrhea and constipation). A doctor may also check for celiac disease if you have bloating or pass a lot of gas.
Lactose intolerance may also be a concern for some people, and can be checked with a breath test.
Exams and Tests
Tests may include:
- Medical history and physical exam.
- A blood test for celiac disease.
- Complete blood count (CBC).
- Sedimentation rate, which checks for inflammation in the body.
- Stool analysis.
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