Rome Criteria for Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diagnosis
IBS is a physical - not psychological - disorder that affects mainly the bowel, and is characterized by lower abdominal pain or discomfort, diarrhea, constipation (or alternating diarrhea/constipation), gas, bloating, and nausea. (See what an IBS attack literally looks like.)
IBS is not a disease, it's a functional disorder, and it's actually characterized as a brain-gut dysfunction.
To date, gut-directed IBS hypnosis is the only treatment researchers have called a "cure" for the brain-gut dysfunction that underlies IBS.
Because IBS is not a disease, diagnosis depends in part on determining whether or not your symptoms match those that have been medically established as definitive of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
The Rome Criteria are the current standard for this definition.
The Rome diagnostic criteria of Irritable Bowel Syndrome always presumes the absence of a structural or biochemical explanation for the symptoms and is made only by a physician.
Interview with Heather Van Vorous ~ Irritable Bowel Syndrome: The Importance of Diagnosis
Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be diagnosed based on at least 12 weeks (which need not be consecutive) in the preceding 12 months, of abdominal discomfort or pain that has two out of three of these features:
1. Relieved with defecation; and/or
2. Onset associated with a change in frequency of stool; and/or
3. Onset associated with a change in form (appearance) of stool.
Symptoms that Cumulatively Support the Diagnosis of IBS:
1. Abnormal stool frequency (may be defined as greater than 3 bowel movements per day and less than 3 bowel movements per week);
2. Abnormal stool form (lumpy/hard or loose/watery stool);
3. Abnormal stool passage (straining, urgency, or feeling of incomplete evacuation);
4. Passage of mucus;
5. Bloating or feeling of abdominal distension.
Supportive Symptoms of IBS:
1. Fewer than three bowel movements a week
2. More than three bowel movements a day
3. Hard or lumpy stools
4. Loose (mushy) or watery stools
5. Straining during a bowel movement
6. Urgency (having to rush to have a bowel movement)
7. Feeling of incomplete bowel movement
8. Passing mucus (white material) during a bowel movement
9. Abdominal fullness, bloating, or swelling
Red Flag symptoms which are NOT typical of IBS:
Pain that often awakens/interferes with sleep
Diarrhea that often awakens/interferes with sleep
Blood in your stool (visible or occult)
Abnormal physical examination
Once you have a firm IBS diagnosis, take heart. While there is no cure yet, there are many ways to successfully manage - and prevent - all IBS symptoms. You can control your IBS, not vice versa.