Doctors generally use a list of symptoms to diagnose a patient. This is called the Rome III Diagnostic Criteria and it is used to differentiate IBS from other gastrointestinal problems. Here is the Criteria, as presented in the About IBS web site:
Recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort** at least 3 days per month in the last 3 months associated with 2 or more of the following:
1. Improvement with defecation
2. Onset associated with a change in frequency of stool
3. Onset associated with a change in form (appearance) of stool
* Criteria fulfilled for the last 3 months with symptom onset at least 6 months prior to diagnosis.
** “Discomfort” means an uncomfortable sensation not described as pain.
Other symptoms that are not essential but support the diagnosis of IBS:
• Abnormal stool frequency (greater than 3 bowel movements/day or less than 3 bowel movements/week);
• Abnormal stool form (lumpy/hard or loose/watery stool);
• Abnormal stool passage (straining, urgency, or feeling of incomplete bowel movement);
• Passage of mucus;
• Bloating or feeling of abdominal distension.
There are other symptoms that may be present and these symptoms may not be gastrointestinal in nature. These include the following:
• Anxiety or depression.
• Unpleasant taste in the mouth.
• Sleeping problems (insomnia) not caused by symptoms of IBS.
• Sexual problems, such as pain during sex or reduced sexual desire.
• Heart palpitations (feeling like the heart skips a beat or is fluttering).
• Urinary symptoms (frequent or urgent need to urinate, trouble starting the urine stream, trouble emptying the bladder).
Even if you do not have ALL the symptoms, you may want to consult with your doctor and see if you have IBS.
Photo courtesy of (nutmeg)