IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is a common dietary condition that affects between 7% and 15% of the general population. Why the wide range of possible cases? Because the criteria for diagnosing IBS tends to vary, and when different criteria are used, it can easily lead to fluctuating results.
can you properly diagnose IBS?
IBS is iconically seen as a “catch-all diagnosis.” In other words, when a healthcare professional has exhausted all other possible options, they simply slap the “IBS” label on a patient and call it a day. This has led to a wide range of guesses regarding how many people actually have IBS.
However, it turns out that, contrary to popular belief, IBS is not a catch-all diagnosis. Even though IBS is often seen through different diagnostic lenses, there actually is an official way to diagnose the condition. In fact, IBS can be diagnosed using a clearly defined number of symptoms which are known as the Rome Criteria.
Now, to be clear, this is not a diagnosis system that uses common processes, like blood tests or X-rays. Instead, in a nutshell, the Rome criteria involves a set of standards that help to observe irregular abdominal activity over the course of weeks and months.
The Rome Criteria was developed by a panel of international experts who operate in the field of functional gastrointestinal disorders. While the criteria is already in use, it has undergone a steady stream of updates and additions to make it more effective as a diagnostic tool.
why do the majority of IBS cases go unaddressed?
While IBS is a definable and diagnosable medical condition, it turns out that the vast majority of cases typically go unaddressed. This happens due to a couple of different reasons.
First, many of those who already have been diagnosed with IBS fail to take steps to manage their symptoms. This is unfortunate, as it’s easily possible to do so through multiple channels, such as the FODMAP diet or using supplements. Often a greater understanding of the situation is all that’s required to empower someone already diagnosed with IBS to take action.
The biggest factor behind unaddressed IBS symptoms, though, is the simple fact that most cases of IBS go undiagnosed. According to one study, as much as 70% of those who experience IBS symptoms will not even take the initial step of talking to their doctor about the situation.
While IBS is a manageable condition that isn’t life-threatening, there’s no reason that people should go through their lives suffering from unnecessary abdominal pain. If you or someone you love is struggling with IBS symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor or a healthcare provider to help clarify the situation.
If you find that you do have IBS, this information can empower you to seek a solution. As already mentioned, this can come in the form of a tailored diet, supplemental support, or other options that will doubtless unfold as ongoing research continues to shed a light on this underserved area of digestive health.