Talk to your doctor to improve your experience with your symptoms
Why should you talk to your doctor?
You may be experiencing symptoms in your gut that have led you to treat yourself using over-the-counter medicines or natural or homemade remedies. How you choose to manage your condition is up to you.
If you feel like you need more information, or if you feel like you are struggling to cope and have exhausted all your options, there are professionals who can help.
Did you know?
IBS is a common condition4, and many people experiencing these symptoms have improved their experience by speaking to a doctor or pharmacist.
Some benefits of talking to your doctor
These healthcare professionals can help you reach a firm diagnosis and a better understanding of your condition and can be the first step in getting the best treatment for you. There are many options available to help manage IBS if you have it.
How is IBS diagnosed ?
To diagnose IBS, doctors review your symptoms and medical and family history and perform a physical exam. Depending on the symptoms, doctors may order tests to rule out other potentially more serious health problems.1
How can you prepare?
A. Review your symptoms1
When making a diagnosis, your doctor will consider any symptoms you have had during the last few months. You may want to reflect on your experiences prior to seeing your doctor so that you can answer their questions accurately. Your doctor is likely to ask about the following:
- How often you have pain and how the pain relates to your bowel movements
- How often do you have bowel movements
- The appearance of your bowel movements1
Small tip: Before your appointment, it might help to write down the details of your symptoms to help you remember them.2
B. Medical and family history1
Your doctor will also ask about your medical and family history, including the following:
- If you have a family history of digestive diseases, such as celiac disease, colon cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease
- Medicines you are taking
- Recent infections
- Stressful events related to the start of your symptoms
- What you eat
- Your history of other health problems that are more common in people who have IBS
C. Physical exam and tests to diagnose IBS1
During a physical exam to diagnose IBS, your doctor will likely take the following steps:
- Check for abdominal bloating
- Listen to sounds within your abdomen using a stethoscope
- Tap on your abdomen, checking for tenderness or pain
In most cases, doctors do not use tests to diagnose IBS. Your doctor may order blood tests, stool tests, and other tests to check for other health problems.
When should you see a doctor?
Can you relate to one or more of the following situations?
- Your symptoms are having a significant impact on your life or your mental health
- Your indigestion lasts longer than two weeks
- You want to better understand your condition
If yes, see a doctor as soon as you can – Take a minute to find the phone number of your doctor and make an appointment.
If your doctor thinks you have IBS, he will discuss the condition and the different treatment options with you.
There are many benefits of talking to your doctor, including an accurate diagnosis of your symptoms.
Small tip: It might be difficult to remember everything your doctor says. If you have any questions afterwards, be sure to write them down and make another appointment with your doctor to review them.
Read on to learn more about the potential risk factors for IBS and other health issues that may be related to IBS.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome/diagnosis (accessed 22.09.2019).
- National Health Service, Getting Diagnosed: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs/symptoms/ (accessed 29.09.2020).
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Indigestion (Dyspepsia). Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/indigestion-dyspepsia/symptoms-causes (accessed 26.04.2020).
- International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, Facts About IBS. Available at: https://www.aboutibs.org/facts-about-ibs.html (accessed 22.09.2020).