Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) (cont.)

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What are irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms and signs?

Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized mostly by abdominal pain and cramping. Other IBS symptoms and signs include

  • diarrhea or constipation;
  • increased gas;
  • abdominal swelling or bloating;
  • cramping pain after eating certain foods;
  • nausea;
  • mucousy or foamy stool;
  • symptoms are often relieved by bowel movements;
  • women with IBS may have more symptoms during their menstrual periods;
  • unexplained weight loss.

How is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) diagnosed?

Irritable bowel syndrome is diagnosed by excluding other GI disorders that can cause similar symptoms. A complete history and physical is taken to determine the duration and frequency of symptoms. To be diagnosed with IBS, the duration of symptoms should be at least six months, and should occur at least three times a month.

A doctor may order tests, including blood tests, stool tests, X-rays, or CT scans. There is no specific finding on these tests that can confirm the diagnosis of IBS, however, other problems can be ruled out by performing them.

A doctor may also send the patient to a gastroenterologist (a specialist for the digestive system). Depending on the symptoms, an upper endoscopy and/or colonoscopy may be performed.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/29/2015

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