Are Diagnostic Tests for IBS Effective?
IBS is believed to affect around 10% of the world’s population. That’s an awful lot of people suffering from stomach cramps, diarrhea, bloating and constipation. Unfortunately, however, diagnosing this miserable condition is not always easy. Doctors often rely on anecdotal evidence from patients and many people are told there is nothing wrong with them.
As anyone with IBS knows, dealing with IBS pain on a daily basis makes living a normal life very difficult. There are over-the-counter medications you can take and following a gluten-free diet works for many people, but before you try anything, you need to know that IBS is at the root of your problems.
Eliminating Serious Health Conditions
The symptoms of IBS are sometimes caused by more serious health conditions, such as celiac, Crohn’s Disease, or even bowel cancer. Instead of allowing your doctor to fob you off with a non-diagnosis, ask for further tests to eliminate more serious health problems. The following diagnostic tests should confirm or eliminate IBS, so you can work out a treatment plan and get on with living a normal life.
CT Scan with Contrast
Doctors often recommend a CT scan to rule out any more serious conditions. A CT scan allows the physician to see detailed images of the internal organs, including the digestive tract. Contrast agents enable the organs to be seen more clearly. A CT scan contains a small amount of radiation, so you should avoid the procedure if you are pregnant, or suspect you might be.
A colonoscopy is used to examine the inside of the bowel. The patient must drink a preparatory laxative drink 24 hours prior to the test, in order to clean out the bowels completely. During the test, a small camera inside a flexible tube is inserted into the colon via the rectum. It sounds more unpleasant than it actually is, so you shouldn’t be too worried about having the test. A colonoscopy will detect signs of inflammation, which is common in IBS sufferers, and also polyps and tumors (if present).
Your doctor will recommend a colonoscopy if you are experiencing severe abdominal pain, bloating, or he can feel any lumps during a physical examination.
An X-Ray with a barium enema is sometimes used to detect signs of IBS, but this has largely been replaced by colonoscopies.
Your doctor may also order some blood tests to rule out coeliac disease, which can be detected by the presence of antibodies in the blood. However, if you have recently eliminated gluten from your diet, the blood test won’t be effective as there won’t be large numbers of antibodies present.
A new blood test developed in 2015 detects two antibodies associated with IBS: anti Cdtb and anti-vinculin. According to researchers, these antibodies show up in more than 90% of people with the symptoms of IBS.
IBS can cause a lot of misery, so it is essential that you seek medical help if you suffer from symptoms of IBS on a regular basis.