How is IBS Diagnosed?


How is IBS Diagnosed?

Living with gastrointestinal discomfort can be challenging, especially when symptoms like gas, bloating, and altered bowel movements become a regular occurrence. These symptoms may point to a condition known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, diagnosing IBS isn’t always straightforward. In this article, we’ll delve into the process of diagnosing IBS and discuss why seeking medical guidance is essential.


1. Recognising Common Symptoms:

IBS is characterized by a range of symptoms, including gas, bloating, and changes in bowel habits such as diarrhea, constipation, or both. However, it’s important to note that occasional digestive discomfort doesn’t necessarily mean you have IBS. To warrant an IBS diagnosis, these symptoms should occur regularly for a period of 3 to 6 months. Additionally, IBS symptoms can be triggered by various factors, making them unpredictable and challenging to manage


2. Seeking Medical Evaluation:

If you’re experiencing symptoms suggestive of IBS, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis. Your doctor will assess you for other conditions that can have similar symptoms to IBS e.g. coeliac disease and explore any symptoms that may indicate your symptoms are caused by another medical condition. This will involve a thorough assessment of your medical history and performing a physical examination and running any tests that are indicated. Be prepared to discuss the frequency and severity of your symptoms, as well as any potential triggers you’ve noticed.


3. Exclusion of Other Conditions:

Because IBS shares symptoms with other gastrointestinal disorders, your doctor may order tests to rule out alternative diagnoses. These tests may include blood tests, stool tests, imaging studies, or endoscopic procedures. The goal is to exclude conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease, or colon cancer, which require different treatment approaches.


4. Understanding ROME IV Criteria:

Once other possible reasons for your symptoms have been excluded, a diagnosis of IBS is often guided by the ROME IV criteria, a set of standardised guidelines used by healthcare professionals.

According to ROME IV criteria, a diagnosis of IBS requires the presence of recurrent abdominal pain, on average, at least one day per week in the last three months, associated with two or more of the following criteria:

  • Related to defecation.
  • Associated with a change in frequency of stool.
  • Associated with a change in form (appearance) of stool.


5. Individualised Approach to Management 

Once a diagnosis of IBS is confirmed, the next step is to develop a management plan tailored to your individual needs. This is where a registered dietitian specialising in gastrointestinal health can play a crucial role. Unlike other medical conditions, IBS management is not one-size-fits-all and doesn’t have one treatment path. A dietitian can work with you to identify triggers and develop a personalised plan to help alleviate symptoms and improve your quality of life.


If you’re struggling with symptoms of IBS and seeking personalised dietary guidance, consider booking an appointment with one of our specialist dietitians. Our team is dedicated to helping people manage their IBS symptoms through tailored dietary plans and lifestyle modifications. Take the first step toward better digestive health by scheduling an appointment today.


6. It’s Not Just About the Diagnosis:

It’s important to remember that while receiving a diagnosis of IBS can provide clarity, the label itself may not significantly alter the management approach. Once other conditions have been excluded, the focus shifts to managing symptoms effectively and improving quality of life. Whether labelled as IBS or not, the goal remains the same: finding relief from gastrointestinal symptoms and optimising digestive health.


Final Thoughts

Finally, diagnosing IBS requires a comprehensive approach that involves recognizing common symptoms, seeking medical evaluation and implementing individualised management strategies. If you suspect you have IBS, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for professional guidance. Remember, you’re not alone, and there are effective strategies available to help you manage your symptoms and reclaim control of your digestive health.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Meet Joanna


Joanna is a passionate advocate, communicator and educator in the fields of gut health, nutrition and wellness.