Irritable bowel syndrome – a diagnosis with detours

Irritable bowel syndrome is widely diagnosed in western industrialized countries: On average, 15 to 20 percent of the population suffer from a nervous intestine, which can quickly become a strain in everyday life. For most patients, however, it takes a while for the findings to be established. Because the symptoms - for example abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation or flatulence - are initially very unspecific and can indicate many different illnesses. In addition, in irritable bowel syndrome no specific organic cause or the symptoms can be determined: It concerns a systemic illness, which makes it particularly difficult to diagnose irritable bowel correctly.

Suspicion of irritable bowel syndrome - what to do?

What to do if your stomach is causing problems? Depending on how acute the symptoms are, you should decide whether you want to make an appointment with your doctor or wait and see. You should get an immediate check-up in case of:

  • Diarrhoea persisting for days
  • Abdominal complaints in connection with high fever
  • persistent nocturnal complaints
  • unwanted weight loss
  • Blood in stool
If this is not the case, it may make sense to wait a few days or weeks, observe your body and make a note of which symptoms occur when. Maybe there is only a gastrointestinal infection behind it. Or you have developed a food intolerance, about which your notes could supply first clues. Especially if the symptoms persist over a longer period of time and if your intestine rebels especially in stressful situations, a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome is likely.

Irritable bowel syndrome: Why diagnosis is so difficult

Chronic intestinal complaints, which recur at irregular intervals and sometimes stronger, sometimes weaker, can be automatically summarized under the diagnosis irritable bowel syndrome?
Unfortunately it is not that simple. Sooner or later it will be unavoidable to see a doctor if the symptoms do not disappear by themselves. Because the signs of irritable bowel syndrome are not clear and could just as well be symptoms of other diseases. A similar picture can be seen in certain gynaecological diseases, some tumours or chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.

Irritable bowel syndrome - for diagnosis by exclusion procedure

As with almost every doctor's appointment, the doctor usually starts with a detailed anamnesis when it comes to intestinal complaints. In a conversation, it is easy to determine which symptoms are dominant and whether they occur, for example, shortly after meals. Information on previous illnesses or taking medication is also interesting for the doctor. The doctor will then arrange for various tests to be carried out, which above all serve to exclude physical causes for your complaints..

  • The basis is usually a blood test, which is examined for liver, gall and pancreas values as well as for inflammation markers.
  • The doctor uses a stool sample to identify any parasite infestation or hidden blood in the stool.
  • An ultrasound examination of the abdomen is also one of the standard examinations for suspected irritable bowel syndrome.
  • By palpating the rectum a tissue change in the large intestine can be ruled out.
  • In female patients, a gynaecological examination is usually ordered to rule out endometriosis or ovarian cancer.
  • Examinations for food allergies or food intolerances, in which, for example, you have to drink fructose and lactose solution on an empty stomach and then perform a breath test, support the medical exclusion procedure. If all findings are negative, the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome is relatively certain
  • A diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome without colonoscopy is theoretically conceivable - nevertheless, many doctors issue a corresponding referral to the gastroenterologist in order to dispel last doubts. In particular, if blood admixtures were discovered in the stool sample.

Irritable bowel diagnosed - and now?

Many people see the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome as ambivalent. On the one hand, they feel relief that there is no serious illness. On the other hand, frustration is one of the common reactions, because a nervous intestine is harmless, but cannot be easily cured with medication or surgery. That does not mean however that irritable bowel is not treatable: There are different therapy approaches, which can relieve complaints effectively - for example meditation, autogenous training or the purposeful uset of probiotic preparations.

A detailed stool test can determine whether the latter is also suitable for you: The from BIOMES tells you exactly what your intestinal flora is like and how the bacterial strains relate to each other, in contrast to the medical stool test. This way you can see whether there is a need for action and whether you can strengthen your intestines with a balanced diet and coordinated dietary supplements.