How Irritable Bowel Syndrome is diagnosed
Who gets IBS?
Although in the UK four times as many women as men seek help for irritable bowel syndrome from their GPs, it's thought there are only around twice as many actually suffer it. This is probably because in Western Europe women are generally more inclined to seek medical help than men. In the East four times as many men as women approach their GPS for help with IBS.
According to NICE, most people affected by IBS are between 20 and 30 years of age. Despite this, it can be diagnosed in people who are much older, and much younger. Many younger people find that a stressful period such as taking exams can bring on the first attack.
It is thought up to 20 per cent of the adult population of the UK will have IBS symptoms at some point in their lives.
The causes of IBS are not really certain but it's thought that gut hypersensitivity, disturbed colonic motility, post-infective bowel dysfunction or problems with the 'antinociceptive' (pain control) system may be involved.
Stressful events, abnormal colonic flora (the bacteria in the gut), anxiety, depression and food intolerances are also sometimes implicated.
A diagnosis of IBS used to require a colonoscopy, which many people found to be a scary thought. Some avoided going for a proper diagnosis because of this.
IBS is now most often diagnosed through the 'Rome lll' criteria, as recommended by NICE, which requires only symptom testing and blood tests. See more information about diagnostic guidelines HERE.
Remember that only a medical professional can diagnose IBS, and if you think you may have it I strongly suggest you make an appointment with your GP. This will help you rule out other causes of your symptoms that may require different treatment.
You will need a formal diagnosis from a medical professional before I can work with you about your IBS.