Because there are no physical signs that positively substantiate the presence of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), diagnosis is often a process of elimination.
To aid in this process, researchers have developed a set of diagnostic criteria, known as Rome Criteria, for IBS and other functional gastrointestinal disorders where the bowel appears normal but doesn’t function normally.
According to the Rome Criteria, you must have certain signs and symptoms before a doctor diagnoses IBS.
To satisfy the Rome Criteria, you must satisfy the following conditions:
- The most important signs and symptoms are abdominal pain and diarrhea or constipation occurring for at least 12 weeks during the past 12 months, though they don’t have to occur consecutively.
The abdominal pain or discomfort has to satisfy two of the following three features:
o It is relieved by having a bowel movement.
o When it starts, there is a change in how often you have a bowel movement.
o When it starts, there is a change in the form of the stool or the way it looks.
You also need to have at least two of the following:
o A change in the frequency or consistency of your stool. For example, you may change from having one normal, formed stool every day to three or more loose stools daily. Or you may have only one hard stool every three to four days.
o Straining, urgency or a feeling that you can’t empty your bowels completely.
o Mucus in your stool.
o Bloating or abdominal distension.
o A change in appearance of bowel movements.
o Feelings of uncontrollable urgency to have a bowel movement.
o Difficulty or inability to pass stool.
Please Note: Bleeding, weight loss, fever, and constant acute pain are not symptoms of IBS and may indicate the presence of other problems or health issues, such as inflammation, or more rarely, cancer.
Depending on how your symptoms compare to the Rome Criteria, then other tests, such as those described below, may be required to test for the presence of other causes.
If your test results for the other possible causes of IBS-like symptoms are negative, then the doctor may diagnose IBS based on youre the history of your symptoms and how your symptoms compare to the Rome Criteria.