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How is irritable bowel syndrome diagnosed?

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In brief: Diagnosis of IBS

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and examine you.
He or she may also ask about your medical history.

To make a diagnosis, your doctor will ask about your pain, when it comes on and what makes it better or worse. He or she may also ask about your bowel movements. They may ask how often you open your bowels, how easy it is to go and what your faeces look like. Your doctor may also ask you to have some blood tests.

If you have typical IBS symptoms and are under 50, it's unlikely you will need further tests. Your doctor may refer you for further tests if your symptoms may be linked to more serious bowel conditions. These include:


• weight loss
• blood in your faeces
• symptoms first developing after age 60
• a family history of bowel problems
• diarrhoea without other symptoms
• anaemia


Your doctor may refer you for a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. This involves using an endoscope, a flexible, tube-like instrument, to look inside your bowel. He or she may take a biopsy (a small piece of tissue) from your bowel lining for examination in a laboratory. This test helps to rule out more serious conditions such as ulcerative colitis.


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Other tests


If your doctor thinks that your IBS may be caused by an infection, you will be asked to give a sample of your faeces. This will be sent to a laboratory for tests. You may also need an X-ray of your abdomen such as a barium enema. In this test, a liquid containing a small amount of barium, a type of metal, is passed through a tube into your back passage where it enters the large intestine. The barium allows inflamed or ulcerated areas of the colon to show up clearly on X-ray images.

In brief: Diagnosis of IBS

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and examine you.
He or she may also ask about your medical history.

To make a diagnosis, your doctor will ask about your pain, when it comes on and what makes it better or worse. He or she may also ask about your bowel movements. They may ask how often you open your bowels, how easy it is to go and what your faeces look like. Your doctor may also ask you to have some blood tests.

If you have typical IBS symptoms and are under 50, it's unlikely you will need further tests. Your doctor may refer you for further tests if your symptoms may be linked to more serious bowel conditions. These include:


• weight loss
• blood in your faeces
• symptoms first developing after age 60
• a family history of bowel problems
• diarrhoea without other symptoms
• anaemia


Your doctor may refer you for a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. This involves using an endoscope, a flexible, tube-like instrument, to look inside your bowel. He or she may take a biopsy (a small piece of tissue) from your bowel lining for examination in a laboratory. This test helps to rule out more serious conditions such as ulcerative colitis.


?
Other tests


If your doctor thinks that your IBS may be caused by an infection, you will be asked to give a sample of your faeces. This will be sent to a laboratory for tests. You may also need an X-ray of your abdomen such as a barium enema. In this test, a liquid containing a small amount of barium, a type of metal, is passed through a tube into your back passage where it enters the large intestine. The barium allows inflamed or ulcerated areas of the colon to show up clearly on X-ray images.
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