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How Is IBS Diagnosed? — an article on the Smart Living Network
April 21, 2009 at 8:07 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

How Is IBS Diagnosed?


Anna wondered what was wrong with her. She was just twenty-three and until recently was perfectly healthy. With the last few weeks, however, she had been experiencing many stomach problems. Anna had become very nervous about even eating a meal, never mind having a social life. In spite of her nervousness, Anna did two things that would help her outcome. First, she called her doctor and set up an appointment, and second, she began to keep a food diary to keep track of what she ate and how her body reacted.

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a condition that keeps the large intestine from functioning properly. Most people with IBS have to deal with abdominal cramps and pain, constipation, diarrhea and bloating. IBS can cause people a great deal of pain and discomfort, but it does not lead to any serious conditions or diseases. Most people can continue to function with IBS, but there are some that find IBS very debilitating.

How is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diagnosed?

To diagnose IBS, most doctors will conduct a thorough medical history. Doctors will want to know and keep track of the symptoms that the patients are experiencing. In addition, they will do a physical exam. IBS is not a disease that can be seen with medical technology, and there is not test that can identify Irritable Bowel Syndrome as the culprit. Doctors will have to test for anything else that can explain a patient's symptoms. Most likely Anna would experience many tests such as stool and blood tests, a sigmoidoscopy (allowing the doctor to see into the colon) and maybe an x-ray. If her doctor reads her test results as negative for any other disease or condition, he may diagnose Anna with IBS based on her symptoms.

What are the Qualifications for IBS?

Ann would have had to have had her abdominal pains or cramping for at least twelve weeks of the past year. This abdominal cramping must also be accompanied by at least two of the following three symptoms. One, the cramping is relieved when she has a bowel movement; two, there is a change in the frequency of her bowel movements; and three, there is a change in the color or form of her bowel movements.

What Diseases or Conditions Have to be Eliminated to Diagnose IBS?

Stomach ulcers, which can be seen with the naked eye and a scope, need to be eliminated. Celiac disease, which is the inability to digest gluten, mimics the symptoms of IBS and would need to be eliminated. Celiac Disease will reveal itself in a blood test. Infections would have to be eliminated, and they can be seen under a microscope. Certain cancers may also have to be eliminated.

What if it is IBS?

While IBS can be very frustrating and uncomfortable to handle, the good news is that IBS is not a gateway condition to a worse disease. With IBS most people learn to work with the symptoms so that their lives are functional. IBS patients need to work with their doctors to control the symptoms and learn to manage their lives to help also. For instance, IBS tends to be worse after eating a large meal, after an emotional upset or stress, after drinking caffeine, and after certain medications. There are also natural products that help IBS patients manage their symptoms.

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