Call your doctor if:
- You have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and your symptoms get worse, begin to disrupt your activities, or don't respond as usual to your home treatment.
- You are more tired than usual.
- Your symptoms wake you from sleep.
- You have unexplained weight loss.
- You have decreased appetite.
- You have belly pain that is not linked with changes in bowel function or that is not relieved when you pass gas or a stool.
- You have belly pain that is now in one area (localized) more than any other area.
- You see blood in your stool.
- You have a fever.
Watchful waiting is a wait-and-see approach.
If your symptoms are mild, it might be okay to try home treatment for 1 week. If you think you may have IBS, try to rule out other causes of belly problems, such as eating a new food; eating sugar-rich foods, especially milk products; eating foods containing sorbitol or other artificial sweeteners; nervousness; or stomach flu. If your symptoms don't get better or if they get worse, call your doctor.
Who to see
The following health professionals can diagnose and treat irritable bowel syndrome.
If more tests are needed or your symptoms don't respond to treatment, it may be helpful to see a doctor who specializes in treating digestive system problems (gastroenterologist). If stress may be playing a role in IBS, it may be helpful to see a psychiatrist or psychologist.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.