You do not want to always be second-guessing your digestive issues, wondering if they are just a passing discomfort or something more. Despite this, completing a "Do I have IBS" quiz on a website is unlikely to provide an expert solution. If you go to a healthcare professional, though, would you know what to expect?
The following are some of the most pressing questions you will hear from a doctor to help them diagnose and treat you. No more uncertainty, just clear, actionable insights you can use to make your life better, whether it means a cure or symptom management.
How Frequent Are the Symptoms?
Knowing how often you feel such discomfort can allow a doctor to distinguish irritable bowel syndrome from normal gut issues. Let the specialist know if the problems are daily occurrences or if they happen at specific times of the day. They can use these patterns to learn about what may be likely triggers or help you with medication.
How Severe Are the Symptoms?
As IBS and other issues can irritate your gastrointestinal tract, it can lead to significant pain or discomfort. Inform the doctor of the intensity of any such feelings, on a scale from one to ten. Make sure to explain how long the symptoms last and mention any physical reactions, such as sweating or vomiting.
Can You Identify Areas of Discomfort?
If you can specify where the issue lies, whether you are experiencing abdominal pain or if it migrates, discuss this with the clinician. They can then discover correlations with specific triggers. In some cases, they can even offer advice on whether it is likely to be IBS or another condition.
If possible, enter the appointment with a pain diary. Keep a log of everything you feel, when, how severe it is, and so on. This can be a powerful tool and prevent you from forgetting anything that might be important later.
Can You Identify Any Symptom Triggers?
The doctor must understand if there are any things you might do that exacerbate IBS issues. This is particularly true for more severe symptoms, such as intense pain or an inability to perform daily tasks.
Try to identify whether you are more likely to feel the symptoms of IBS if:
- Undergoing significant stress
- Eating certain foods
- Engaging in physical activities
- You are in an environment with specific weather
- You are Traveling
- Feeling extremes of emotion
With this information, the doctor may be able to provide a more precise diagnosis and, thus, treatment.
Do You Have a Family History of Gastrointestinal Disorders?
IBS is a gastrointestinal issue with a strong genetic link. If the rest of your family has been prone to such difficulties, the clinician can take that into account when discussing your options.
If other gut issues run in your family, such as Crohn's Disease, you may want to mention this too.
Have You Experienced Past Gastrointestinal Issues?
Even if the specific symptoms you are feeling now are new, the doctor may ask about your history of gastrointestinal problems. There are several reasons for this.
For a start, there is a correlation between such symptoms in the past and present issues. As such, they can use this information to guide their diagnostic process.
At the same time, understanding whether a patient has had gut problems may affect the doctor's treatment choices. A patient with a weak digestive system, for example, may not be able to handle specific medications.
For the same reasons, a health expert may inquire about autoimmune diseases you may have suffered from previously. These can also affect both your gut health and your ability to handle the treatments they may offer.
How Regular and Consistent Are Your Bowel Movements?
The doctor may ask you whether you have kept track of the regularity and nature of your stool. This is because there is often a strong link between bowel movement regularity or stool type and gastrointestinal health.
Much like the pain diary, try to keep track of each bowel movement you have as well as its shape or size. If you have sudden changes in such habits, or if there is a flare-up they should have concerns about, they can then discuss it with you.
More regular movements can often be an indicator of effective IBS management. When aware of what "normality" means to you, the doctor may be interested in returning you to this baseline.
Have You Noticed Changes in Your Symptoms?
In addition to your current symptoms, a clinician will want to know how long you have been experiencing these issues. If the change is recent, this means the problems are only now flaring up. It will often not demand as much attention to resolve as a long-running problem.
Do the Symptoms Affect Your Daily Life?
If symptoms begin to affect your enjoyment of work or leisure activities, it may signal a need for more immediate attention. This can also mean the clinician can discuss more proactive steps in treatment with your health insurer.
You should mention if you have seen a change in your:
- Ability to engage in social situations
- Relationships and how you handle them
- Comfort engaging in personal intimacy
- Effectiveness in the workplace
Irritable bowel syndrome may even impact your emotional state, causing issues such as stress and anxiety. In some cases, it can even lead to depression. Knowing if this has occurred will enable the clinician to refer you for support in these areas.
In some cases, your clinician may be able to advise you if, for example, your workplace does not respond well to the news about your condition.
Better Options Than a "Do I Have IBS" Quiz
With the knowledge of what doctors ask about in a diagnosis, you can enter any appointment prepared. Remember, though, that while this article may be a guide, your own experience is what you need to communicate. It outstrips the usefulness of any "Do I have IBS" quiz and helps you get valuable insights from a specialist.
The Mind-Gut-Immunity Clinic is here to help you get the most out of such an appointment. We have decades of expertise in non-surgical and medication-free treatment for many such issues. Therefore, reach out to us and begin your journey towards improved gut health today.