Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Life tested strategies for managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome

How Do Doctors Define IBS?

Rome III is a set of criteria used by doctors and gastroenterologists to define IBS.  According to the Rome III criteria, you may have IBS when there is:

Recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort (discomfort is defined as an uncomfortable sensation that is not described as pain) at least 3 days each month in the last 3 months associated with two or more of the following:

  • it gets better when you pass a stool
  • the start of your symptoms is associated with a change in how often you pass a stool (referred to as the frequency)
  • the start of your symptoms is associated with a change in form (appearance) of the stool

These symptoms will have occurred for the last 3 months with symptoms starting at least 6 months prior to diagnosis.  Many people live with IBS for a long period of time before consulting with their doctor.

What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a functional gastrointestinal disorder that affects as many as 1 in 4 people in the UK and twice as many women as men.  A functional disorder is where your doctor has determined that there is nothing abnormal that could be contributing to your symptoms.Colon

In this case, the structure that’s affected is the large intestine (shown in the picture on your right in red).

Your digestive system is an interactive end-to-end system, so don’t consider your large intestine in isolation, as it can be affected by what’s happening in any aspect of your digestive system.


Digestive Disorder Warning Signs

There are some signs and symptoms which may suggest other gastrointestinal conditions.  It’s really important that you check in with your doctor as digestive problems often share similar symptoms, especially in the beginning and you need to be sure you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  If you notice any of these, please consult your doctor.

Unexplained weight loss; Fever of unknown origin, especially if prolonged or recurring, or occurring as night sweats; Blood in your stool or on the toilet paper; Persistent or severe vomiting; Unexplained changes in bowel habit; Unexplained ulcers.


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There are 4 IBS subtypes:

  1. constipation predominant (IBS-C),
  2. diarrhoea predominant (IBS-D),
  3. alternating between constipation and diarrhoea (IBS-M for mixed) and
  4. unspecified (IBS-U) when your IBS doesn’t fall within any of the previous classifications or subtypes.