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Irritating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (Part 2)
March 9, 2009
Last week (in “Irritating Irritable Bowel Syndrome [Part 1]“), we started to take a closer look at irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. And for those of you who contributed your comments and advice, thank you. IBS is really more common than many of us realize, but because of the nature of this condition, it’s not exactly a topic one brings up too readily. Let’s continue with IBS this week.
Diagnosing IBS: Do You Really Have It?
When in Rome…
IBS can be hard to diagnose and it may take several years before a physician concludes that a person has this condition. IBS is sometimes referred to as a “diagnosis of exclusion.” Physicians always need to make sure that a more serious condition or disease isn’t present, such as inflammatory bowel disease, for example. The tricky aspect of IBS is that, physically, the bowel appears normal. The problem is that it just doesn’t work normally.
First, here are symptoms, or “red flags” (as the Irritable Bowel Syndrome Self Help and Support Group calls them on its Web site), that rule out IBS:
So, if you were to have any of the above symptoms, you’d likely have something else going on other than IBS.
How, then, does one “qualify” for IBS? According to the Rome criteria, one must have abdominal pain and discomfort for at least 12 weeks (they don’t have to be consecutive weeks) along with two out of three of the following before you can officially be diagnosed with IBS:
If you pass the test and you don’t have any of the “red flag” symptoms I previously mentioned, your physician may either start you on a course of treatment or decide to do more tests.
Other Diagnostic Tests for IBS
Not a lot of fun, but it’s better to be certain that you don’t have something more serious going on.
If you think you might have IBS but haven’t had a workup based on the criteria above, talk to your physician about your symptoms and about getting a more formal exam.
More on IBS next week.
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