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Diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

The doctor may suspect IBS based on your symptoms and past health. There are no specific tests for IBS. Your doctor will rule out other conditions that cause similar problems.

A physical and rectal exam will be done.

IBS may be diagnosed if you had 2 or more of the following symptoms on 1 or more days a week, over the past 3 months:

  • Pain relieved by a bowel movement
  • Onset of symptoms with a change in stool frequency
  • Onset of symptoms with a change in stool appearance

Your doctor may want to do tests if certain symptoms are present. It will help to rule out other conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, colon or rectal cancers, or infections.

Tests may include:


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Diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: Updated November 2017. Accessed June 7, 2019.

Ford AC, Lacy BE, Talley NJ. Irritable bowel syndrome. N Engl J Med. 2017;376(26):2566-2578.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated September 10, 2018. Accessed June 7, 2019.

Wilkins T, Pepitone C, Alex B, Schade RR. Diagnosis and management of IBS in adults. Am Fam Physician. 2012;86(5):419-426.

Last reviewed December 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daus Mahnke, MD  Last Updated: 6/7/2019