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How do I find out if I have IBS?

While Irritable Bowel Syndrome is the name given to longstanding symptoms consisting of frequent abdominal discomfort and bowel disturbances that any other disease cannot explain, a doctor should always diagnose IBS.

Please do not attempt to diagnose yourself or with the help of (as much as we love it) Google!

Don’t hesitate to see your GP; they will carry out a careful history to identify any Red Flag symptoms and refer you for any test that they consider necessary.

When I first speak to you on the phone (and if IBS is your concern), I will ask if you have

received a diagnosis from the GP or consultants? This will let me know that you have been

investigated for all serious abdominal complaints, and I am safe to treat you. 

If, when we speak, you let me know you have not yet discussed your symptoms with your

GP, I will ask you to via them before coming forward for a Colonic.

IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion; there is not test or marker that is specific for IBS.

Your doctor’s priority is to ensure you haven’t got a life-threatening treatable condition such

as Coeliac Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s Disease, or Ulcerative Colitis). Any disease that affects the bowels can cause symptoms that are identical to IBS.  

Frequent symptoms such as Bloating, explosive diarrhoea, constantly feeling over full,

constipation, incomplete bowel movements, excessive aggressive wind, spasm and

cramping are very obvious, but if you are also experiencing or have been feeling: -

Recent weight loss, whilst for most of us we would be happy with this.

However, if you have lost more than half a stone (3kg) with no changes in your diet or

lifestyle and you’re not actively trying, then you should check this with your doctor.

Blood in the stools or from the rectum.

Although in many cases, rectal bleeding is caused by haemorrhoids (piles) which often develop in people with IBS;

  • Regular blood loss from the rectum should never be ignored as it could be a symptom of colitis or cancer.

  • Constant fever and a general feeling of discomfort (attacks of sweating, shivering and

  • tiredness)

  • A persistent unexplained change in bowel habit for no apparent reason (diet, stress or

  • medication) is essential in somebody over 50 years of age.

  • A family history of bowel or ovarian cancer.

  • You need to consult with your GP immediately; please don’t sit on problems…The GP will be

  • more than happy to see you and arrange for samples to be taken.

  • Some of the tests carried out on blood or stool samples are.

  • Haemoglobin (for anaemia).

  • White cell count, c-reactive (for infection or inflammation).

  • Tissue transglutaminase antibodies, anti-glial in antibodies (for Coeliac Disease).

  • Faecal calprotectin (for inflammatory Bowel Disease).

  • Faecal Occult Blood (for Bowel Cancer).

When all these come back as negative, then you may be advised you have IBS. Should you

have a positive result; your GP will send you for further scans and colonoscopy.

Even if you have been diagnosed with IBS, if your symptoms change, then you should seek

further medical advice.

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