IBS Testing

So, you are probably struggling with years of bloating and discomfort. Someone probably told you in the past that you might have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). But, maybe you are not sure whether you actually have this condition or not? Maybe you are thinking, what tests do I need? Is it expensive? What symptoms does someone with IBS have? Keep Reading!

HOW DO YOU DIAGNOSE IBS?

Unfortunately, there is no formal IBS test that can tell you “YES, you have IBS”. This is probably why most people get so frustrated and they go from one Doctor to the other.

IBS diagnosis is based on two things: symptomatology and through exclusion of other conditions.

WHAT SYMPTOMS SOMEONE WITH IBS HAS?

The most common IBS symptoms are:

  • Bloating
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Alternating bowel habits
  • Diarrhoea or/and Constipation
  • Abdominal Distention
  • Excessive Flatulence

Because these symptoms could happen at any time we need to be able to differentiate them from someone with IBS. That’s why we use the Rome IV Criteria. The criteria are:

Recurrent abdominal pain, on average, at least 1 day per week in the last 3 months, associated with 2 or more of the following criteria:

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

In simple terms. If you have been suffering with abdominal pain or discomfort weekly for the last 3 months, alongside any changes in your bowels then you should see a Doctor.

Getting an IBS Diagnosis

Your Doctor will consider your age, medical history, health, symptoms before they decide what tests you should have to exclude other conditions before diagnosing you with IBS.

MOST COMMON IBS TESTS

Coeliac Disease Screen

A simple blood test is needed to measure Total immunological immunoglobin A (IgA) and IgA tissue transglutaminase. If the blood tests come back positive a further camera will be needed to take a biopsy of your small bowel for confirmation of the disease. It is important to note here, that for the Coeliac Screening to be accurate you need to be consuming Gluten in your diet for at least 4 weeks before the test.

Symptoms of Coeliac Disease can be identical to those of IBS, therefore it is essential to rule out this disease.

Stool Sample Test – Faecal Calprotectin

These may be used to look for signs of infection or inflammation. Calprotectin is a protein biomarker that presents in the faeces with inflammation. This can indicate inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) – Crohn’s Disease & Ulcerative Colitis, but again further testing will be needed to confirm this.

Inflammation & Full Blood Count

Measuring your C-Reactive Protein (CRP) can show signs of inflammation and further testing might be needed then. In addition, a blood test is always useful in checking your general health.

Colonoscopy & Gastroscopy

A colonoscopy is generally not needed for an IBS diagnosis. However, your Doctor will take into consideration your age and symptoms and will decide whether you need one. This however, does not mean that you will have something serious going on.

Summary

Suffering from IBS can be really difficult and can get you into considering anything that you see on the market. If you are concerned that you have IBS please talk to your Doctor. You can discuss with your Doctor your concerns and possible testing to get a proper diagnosis. A formal IBS diagnosis will be given when your symptoms match out those of IBS and once you rule out other possible conditions.

Picture of Christos Vichas

Christos Vichas

Christos is a UK Registered Dietitian (RD) specialising in Gut Health. He has an in depth experience of working with clients both in a hospital and community setting. He is passionate about gut health and he is looking to be up to date with the latest research and guidelines in order to be able to transform his patients’ lives. He will do everything in his power to improve your gut health. The best reward for him is when patients leave with a smile and an improved gut health. Although he lives and works in the UK, Christos provides consultations virtually all over the world helping patients to identify their food triggers and improve their gut health in order to live a happier life.

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