Diagnosis and Management of IBS

Dietary change is cornerstone in IBS management

Diagnosis and Management of IBS

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder which presents as recurring abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel habits such as diarrhea or constipation. The exact cause of IBS is not yet fully understood, but it is thought to be related to a combination of factors such as genetics, diet, stress, and gut microbiome imbalances. In this blog, we will discuss the diagnosis and treatment of IBS.


There is no specific test for IBS, and diagnosis is usually based on symptoms and the exclusion of other potential conditions. To diagnose IBS, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medical history, may order blood tests, stool tests, and imaging tests. These test will assist be used to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms e.g. inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease, or colon cancer.

The Rome criteria is a set of guidelines used to diagnose IBS, which includes recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort for at least three days per month in the last three months, along with two or more of the following: improvement with defecation, onset associated with a change in frequency of stool, and onset associated with a change in the form (appearance) of stool.


The goal of IBS treatment is to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. The treatment plan will vary depending on the severity of symptoms, and may include lifestyle changes, medication, and psychotherapy.

Lifestyle Changes: Dietary modifications are often an very important part of IBS treatment. Some people find that certain foods such as spicy foods, fatty foods, caffeine, alcohol, or dairy trigger symptoms. Keeping a food diary may help identify trigger foods but mistaken attribution is common. A Dietitian experienced in the dietary investigation for food intolerances is essential if food is suspected as unnecessary restrictions can lead to nutrient deficiencies and adversely impact gut health and overall health.

Regular exercise, stress management techniques, and getting enough sleep are other lifestyle changes that may help manage symptoms.

Medication: There are several types of medication that may be used to treat IBS symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe antispasmodics to reduce abdominal pain and cramping, laxatives to relieve constipation, or anti-diarrheal medication to manage diarrhea. Generally it is not recommended to stay on these medications long term so identifying triggers for symptoms is essential.

Psychotherapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that has been shown to be effective in managing IBS symptoms. It focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors that can contribute to symptoms, such as anxiety or stress.

In conclusion, IBS is a chronic condition that can significantly affect quality of life. It is important to seek medical attention if you experience recurring abdominal pain, bloating, or changes in bowel habits. A proper diagnosis and treatment plan can help manage symptoms and improve overall health and well-being.

“Phoebe has over 8 years of supporting people with IBS and food intolerances. She is passionate about this area having managed her own food intolerances..”

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