Today, people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have more medication choices than ever before, and doctors know more about how to treat the condition.
Because IBS symptoms vary from person to person, there isn't one remedy that's best for everyone. "It really has to be tailored to the patient," says Braden Kuo, MD, director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital. A person who has IBS with constipation (IBS-C) will likely need a different approach than someone...
The standard diagnostic guideline for IBS, called the Rome III criteria, requires that you have these symptoms for at least 12 weeks during the past 6 months. But most doctors don't follow that requirement closely, says Philip Schoenfeld, MD, MSEd, MSc. He is co-author of the American College of Gastroenterology's IBS treatment guidelines.
Schoenfeld says it's tough for patients to remember the exact number of weeks they had symptoms in the preceding year. He suggests that people not wait. Instead, see a doctor whenever you have recurrent symptoms.
Doctors can determine whether your symptoms are IBS or signs of another problem. IBS is often confused with other illnesses, so doctors will need to ask questions and perform tests to confirm a diagnosis.
SOURCES: Philip Schoenfeld, MD, MSEd, MSc, co-author of the American College of Gastroenterology's "Evidence-Based Guidelines on the Management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome." Current Psychiatry Web site. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: "Irritable Bowel Syndrome."