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Diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

The doctor may suspect IBS based on the problems you are having and past health. There are no tests for this health problem.

A physical and rectal exam will be done.

You may have this health problem if you had two or more of these problems on one or more days a week, over the past three months:

  • Pain that gets better after you move your bowels
  • Symptoms that start with a change in how often you move your bowels
  • Symptoms that start with a change in the way your stool looks

Your doctor may want to do tests. It will help to rule out other health problems like inflammatory bowel disease, colon or rectal cancers, or infections.

Tests may be:


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  • Diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome/diagnosis. Updated November 2017. Accessed August 27, 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 website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113627/Irritable-bowel-syndrome-IBS. Updated September 10, 2018. Accessed August 26, 2019.


  • James P. Cornell, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.