Pt. 1 IBS Awareness: How do you know when you have IBS?



April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome awareness month! Though many may not realize it, approximately 20% of the population struggles with some form of irritable bowel syndrome. Let’s dive in and talk about what are some diagnostic criteria for IBS.


What are the diagnostic criteria for IBS?

Firstly, there must be recurrent abdominal pain at least once per week on average in the last 3 months. On top of that, one must also be simultaneously dealing with at least two other criteria such as bowel movements, change in stool frequency, and change in stool form or appearance. There are also 3 major forms of IBS:

  • IBS-D, which is a tendency towards diarrhea

  • IBS-C, a tendency towards constipation

  • IBS-M, having both tendencies of diarrhea and constipation

  • IBS-U, that will be diagnosed when an individual doesn’t fit into the first three categories

Please note that it is important to know what kind of IBS someone may have in order to properly manage the symptoms. Work with a dietitian and care team to come up with the right protocol for you!

Also, If you are interested in the specific typology of bowel movements and diagnostic criteria of many gastrointestinal issues, check out this website!


What are the symptoms of IBS?

So we talked about criteria for IBS. Let’s now go into IBS symptoms. Firstly, this disease can be very individualistic. It can manifest within a person as a result of different causes and with different sets of symptoms. Nonetheless, there are some general truths that come with IBS. The major symptoms are:

  • Pain or discomfort in the lower abdominal region

  • Change in stool frequency or the form of the stool

  • Mucus passed through the rectum

  • Abdominal pain reduction specifically coinciding with a bowel movement

There may also be the sensation of bloating, gas, or the presence of diarrhea or constipation (depending on the type of IBS). If a person is experiencing these symptoms, they may be prescribed a restrictive diet– such as the low FODMAP diet– by their dietitian.


PLEASE NOTE: A restrictive diet is NOT a fix to a problem, it is a temporary symptom relief tool while looking for the root cause of the gut dysfunction and dysbiosis. Even if an individual is prescribed this diet, it is not the full answer to the root cause of their problem.

Want to know about IBS causes and solutions? Keep an eye out for parts 2 and 3 of this IBS series for IBS awareness month!


Want to learn more? Make sure to stay tuned for the next two blogs in this series on IBS causes and solutions!


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References

Sood, R., Law, G. & Ford, A. Diagnosis of IBS: symptoms, symptom-based criteria, biomarkers or 'psychomarkers'?. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 11, 683–691 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrgastro.2014.127

National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Disease. (November 2017). Definition & facts for irritable bowel syndrome. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome/definition-facts

Ireton-Jones, C., Weisberg, M. (12 August 2020). Management of irritable bowel syndrome: Physician-Dietitian collaboration. Nutrition in Clinical Practice, volume 35 (issue 5), pp 826-834. https://doi.org/10.1002/ncp.10567

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10620-020-06109-5

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National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Disease. (November 2017). Definition & facts for irritable bowel syndrome. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome/definition-facts

Sood, R., Law, G. & Ford, A. Diagnosis of IBS: symptoms, symptom-based criteria, biomarkers or 'psychomarkers'?. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 11, 683–691 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrgastro.2014.127

Kennedy, P. J., Cryan, J. F., Dinan, T. G., & Clarke, G. (2014). Irritable bowel syndrome: a microbiome-gut-brain axis disorder?. World journal of gastroenterology, 20(39), 14105–14125. https://doi.org/10.3748/wjg.v20.i39.14105

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Ireton-Jones, C., Weisberg, M. (12 August 2020). Management of irritable bowel syndrome: Physician-Dietitian collaboration. Nutrition in Clinical Practice, volume 35 (issue 5), pp 826-834. https://doi.org/10.1002/ncp.10567



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