Irritable bowel syndrome is often diagnosed according to your symptoms. Few tests, if at all, are done to diagnose IBS. If your doctor suspects your symptoms come from lactase deficiency, he may require you to eat a lactose-free diet for a couple of weeks.
Some of the tests done to exclude other problems other than IBS can involve:
- Medical history and physical examination
- Stool tests to identify any infection
- Blood tests to determine anemia or celiac disease
- Thyroid function tests
Some physicians may require their patient undergo a colonoscopy. This is a procedure wherein a narrow, pliable tube is inserted inside the anus to observe the colon. This test may be necessary when:
- People 50 yrs old plus exhibit IBS symptoms
- A patient show abnormal results in their blood tests
- The patient exhibits involuntary weight loss or blood in their stools
Some conditions that can mimic IBS symptoms can include:
- Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- Colon cancer – Symptoms can be abnormal blood tests, stools with blood and unintended weight loss among others
- Celiac disease
Besides the symptoms and their degree of severity, diagnosing IBS should also entail procedures that will exclude other health problems. Diagnosis will only be done of tests have ruled out other conditions and if the patient shows the symptoms related to IBS.
The tests that may be included for the patient may be dependent on the severity of his symptoms, how his symptoms came about and the patient’s age. For young adults, particularly young adult women exhibiting symptoms of IBS, a blood test may be the only test they need. Women are more prone to IBS than men.
For older adults particularly patients 50 yrs old and older who show IBS symptoms for the first time in their life, comprehensive testing may be needed. Older people are less prone to developing IBS than young adults and comprehensive testing is needed to see if the symptoms are caused by problems other than IBS.
Juliette Aiyana is a licensed acupuncturist and the founder of Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs in New York City.