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How do you diagnose IBS

A diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) relies upon the symptoms people experience. Doctors may use a set of criteria known as Rome III to assess IBS symptoms.

What are the Rome III criteria?

The Rome III criteria were developed by a group of medical experts at a meeting in Rome, Italy. These criteria state that a diagnosis of IBS requires certain symptoms to be present for several months. Symptoms that need to be present either all the time or regularly are:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort that is relieved by a bowel movement.
  • Marked change in bowel habits (e.g. increased or decreased frequency)
  • Marked change in consistency of the motions passed (e.g. firmer or softer)

Are there any tests for IBS?

There is no test that can definitely confirm the presence of IBS. However certain tests may be used to exclude other medical problems that cause similar symptoms to IBS. Your doctor may perform a physical examination, for example, and question you about where and when you feel any pain. He or she will ask about your medical history and will need to know about your bowel habits, including how frequently and easily you go to the toilet.

How can you help your doctor?

If you think that you have IBS then it is important to check with your doctor or pharmacist that you do indeed have the condition. You can help by being prepared to answer questions on your symptoms as accurately and honestly as possible.

You can print a form here to take to your Doctor or, alternatively, if you wish to print and complete a more comprehensive symptom checklist to take to your doctor, please click here.