Diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Your doctor will begin with questions about your symptoms and past health. A physical and rectal exam will also be done. Tests will help to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. This includes inflammatory bowel disease, colon or rectal cancers, or infections.

There are no specific tests that will show IBS. Your doctor will make the diagnosis based on your symptoms and ruling out other conditions. 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

Other symptoms can also support diagnosis such as straining, mucus, or bloating.

Tests are not usually needed. They may be used if the doctor thinks there may be another cause of symptoms.

Tests may include:


Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.



Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated September 12, 2017. Accessed June 27, 2018.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs. Updated November 2017. Accessed June 27, 2018.
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 May 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daus Mahnke, MD
Last Updated: 6/27/2018

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