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IBS Symptom Checklist

The following information is not intended for self-diagnosis. Self-diagnosis for IBS is inadvisable because some IBS symptoms are also symptoms of serious, possibly life-threatening, problems. Also some symptoms of IBS are indicative of minor, easily treated, problems. If the sypmtom lists suggest to you that you may be suffering from IBS, then please visit your doctor for confirmation. Then come back here to get the safest, best non-invasive help available - hypnotherapy.

Doctors Need Educating

These are some of the comments that patients have received when visiting a doctor for help with what turned out to be IBS.

"You have a problem with food; you feel OK if you don't eat, so don't eat."

"Just don't think about it and it will go away."

"There is nothing physically wrong with you. You only have symptoms. This is a psychosomatic problem. It's all in your mind. Your mind controls your body. You must learn to re-train your bowel." (The doctor did not say how!)

Hospital Doctor: "You come here a lot. Do you like coming to the hospital?"

Rome II Diagnostic Criteria for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Symptoms that cumulatively support the diagnosis of IBS:

  • Relieved with defecation; and/or
  • Change in frequency of stool; and/or
  • Change in appearance of stool.
  • Abnormal stool frequency
  • Lumpy/hard or loose/watery stool
  • Straining, urgency, or feeling of incomplete evacuation
  • Bloating or feeling of abdominal distension.

Supportive symptoms of IBS:

  • Fewer than three bowel movements a week
  • More than three bowel movements a day
  • Hard or lumpy stools
  • Loose (mushy) or watery stools
  • Straining during a bowel movement
  • Urgency (having to rush to have a bowel movement)
  • Feeling of incomplete bowel movement
  • Passing mucus (white material) during a bowel movement
  • Abdominal fullness, bloating, or swelling

The above criteria have now been simplified to:

Rome III Diagnostic Criteria for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

At least 3 months, with onset at least 6 months previously of recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort associated with 2 or more of the following:
  • Improvement with defecation; and/or
  • Onset associated with a change in frequency of stool; and/or
  • Onset associated with a change in form (appearance) of stool

Some symptoms can be mistaken for IBS and must receive immediate medical treatment.

Red flag symptoms which are not typical of IBS:

  • Pain that awakens or interferes with sleep
  • Diarrhea that awakens or interferes with sleep
  • Blood in the stool (visible or occult)
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Abnormal physical examination
If you have any of these symptoms see your doctor immediately. If you have blood in your stool, visit your nearest medical emergency treatment centre immediately.

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Treatment Options

A High-Fibre Diet: Can help with constipation.
Diet: Food intolerance can be part of the problem.
Antispasmodics: Relax the gut muscles.
Anti-diarrhoea medicine: Does what it says.
Antidepressants: For pain and diarrhoea.
Talking Therapies: Counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), or psychotherapy to deal with stress and anxiety - frequently associated with IBS.
Hypnotherapy: This is undoubtedly the best course of treatment because it is adaptable enough to deal with the wide variety of symptoms - physical as well as psychological.

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