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Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Criteria for Diagnosis - Topic Overview

Experts on digestive diseases developed these criteria, known as the Rome III criteria, to help doctors determine whether symptoms are caused by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). You meet the Rome III criteria for IBS if your symptoms began at least 6 months ago, you have had abdominal (belly) pain or discomfort at least 3 days each month in the last 3 months, and at least two of the following statements are true:1

  • The pain is relieved by having a bowel movement.
  • The pain is linked to a change in how often you have a bowel movement.
  • The pain is linked to a change in the appearance or consistency of your stool.

Having any of the following symptoms supports the diagnosis of IBS.

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  • A change in how often you pass stool (more than 3 times a day or less than 3 times a week)
  • A change in the form of your stool (such as lumpy and hard or watery and loose)
  • A change in the way stool passes (you may have to strain, you may feel an urgent need to pass stool, or you may feel like you have not completely passed a stool)
  • Passing of mucus in the stool
  • Bloating or a feeling like your stomach is stretched out

These criteria are used along with a medical history and physical exam to help your doctor determine whether you have IBS.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 26, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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