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remains fairly stable. Over time, some people with IBS will no longer have symptoms, while new people will develop IBS. It has been established that each year about 10% of IBS patients get better.How do I know if I have IBS?A knowledgeable physician can diagnose IBS by careful review of your symptoms, a physical examination, and selected diagnostic procedures that are often limited to a few basic tests.I have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but tests found nothing wrong. Do I need more tests?In IBS, tests are expected to find nothing. In the absence of physical findings, the symptom-based Rome diagnostic criteria have been shown to be reliable. In addition, a physical exam and limited diagnostic tests help confirm this diagnosis with a high level of confidence. Extensive testing may be reserved for specific situations.What is the Rome Criteria?The Rome Criteria is a classification system that uses specific symptom patterns to identify functional GI disorders, such as IBS.What is a "functional" bowel disorder?A functional bowel disorder occurs when there is a problem with the way the bowels work, not their structure. The body’s normal activities are impaired.Is IBS a risk factor for other serious diseases?There are no long-term organic complications associated with IBS. Once an adequate evaluation is made to diagnose IBS, people with the disorder have no greater need of preventive checkups than other people.Can the menstrual cycle affect IBS symptoms?Bowel function appears to be influenced by changes in the level of female hormones. Symptoms can become worse at certain times of the cycle, particularly at the time of menstrual periods.
Women both with and without IBS report a higher prevalence of GI symptoms, such as pain and bloating, just prior and at the time of menstrual periods. These symptoms are reported as more intense in women with IBS.This occurrence can sometimes make it difficult for the patient, as well as the physician, to determine whether she is having a gynecological problem (such as endometriosis or other pelvic pain condition) or a GI problem. It is important for the patient and the physician to realize that sometimes both possibilities must be explored.Learn more about the gynecological aspects of IBSWhat causes bloating and gas?Bloating is a common symptom in IBS. It is usually described by people as a feeling of fullness or heaviness in the belly. It may be associated with visible abdominal distension in which the belly appears swollen.Bloating may be due to any of several factors. This may be due to increased intake of gas-forming foods, slowed transit and evacuation of gas through the bowel, and increased sensitivity to food, gas, and other bowel contents.Learn more about bloating in IBSNot everyone with IBS actually produces more gas than those who do not have IBS. People with IBS may also have an increased relaxation of the abdominal wall muscles even without an increase in intestinal gas. This is an unconscious muscle relaxation response in response to the pain of IBS.