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Conditions in Depth

This page contains the basic information about Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) .

Return to the Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Main Condition Center

Diagnosis

There is no test for IBS. Your doctor will diagnose IBS if you have the typical symptoms and have been tested for other disorders that can cause similar symptoms.

Your doctor will ask about your medical history and symptoms. Your doctor will examine you, testing your abdomen for tenderness and feeling to determine whether internal organs are larger than normal. The doctor will check for fever or weight loss. If you have any of these signs, you likely have something other than IBS.

Depending on your medical history, your doctor may do tests to eliminate other diseases that may cause similar symptoms. These tests might include:

  • Blood tests

  • Stool sample, to check for blood or evidence of infection

  • Sigmoidoscopy, in which a flexible, lighted tube with a tiny camera on the end is inserted into the rectum and up the left side of the colon

  • Colonoscopy, in which a longer tube examines the entire colon

Your doctor may suggest that you stop eating or drinking certain foods for up to three weeks to determine if your diet is contributing to your symptoms. For example, your doctor may ask you to eliminate milk products if he or she suspects lactose intolerance.

 
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Created: 4/27/2004   |   Last Modified: 8/21/2006
From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2006 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.