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Do I Have IBS? Is Assessing Through An IBS Quiz Impactful? Nirva Experts Share Insights

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medically reviewed by Dr Naveen Chandran

Dr. Bhavya

Updated on April 13, 2024

Uncertain whether you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)? Well, you're not alone in this pool of confusion! It's always challenging to know. That is because no peculiar symptom or defining test can confirm it. The only way to know is to approach your healthcare provider for an informed diagnosis. They will confirm the diagnosis of IBS by ruling out other conditions with similar symptoms.

To help you discover if your signs and symptoms suggest IBS, Nirva experts share several points for assessing IBS symptoms. This blog will guide your curiosity and answer your question on how to tell if you have IBS. Read on to gain valuable insights for a clearer picture.

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What is IBS?

IBS is a collection of symptoms that include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and constipation. In some instances, you may also find mucus in your stools. Or, for that matter, you may experience the uncomfortable sensation of an incomplete bowel movement. 

Is it IBS or Indigestion? Try Understanding the Intricacies, Similarities, and Differences

Do these signs sound like what you would experience when eating something you shouldn't have? Well, the answer is yes. The said symptoms are very similar to those of indigestion. So, wait before you conclude that you have IBS. The symptoms can be from some other condition or disease similar to IBS. Hence, while IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) shares some similarities with occasional indigestion, there are key differences to consider.

However, IBS is familiar indeed. Experts estimate IBS affects around 11% of the population globally. Around 30% of people who experience the symptoms of IBS will consult physicians for their IBS symptoms.

You can only be sure that you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) by seeking a diagnosis from a qualified healthcare advisor. While the points mentioned can offer some important insights, Nirva experts do not recommend self-diagnosis.

Is Loose Stool the Only Symptom of IBS?

While loose stools or diarrhoea can be a common symptom of IBS, but not always, plus, it's not the only one. IBS is a syndrome, a group of symptoms that can manifest differently in each person. There are no unique signs or symptoms that can reliably indicate that you are experiencing IBS.

Said that IBS comes in patterns;

  • IBS-D - IBS dominant with diarrhoea.
  • IBS-C - IBS dominant with constipation. It is also the most common IBS symptom in females.
  • IBS-Mixed - IBS with mixed symptoms of diarrhoea and constipation.
  • IBS- Unclassified - Your IBS symptom does not meet the criteria of IBS stool consistency, but you have IBS.

Further, even chronic constipation can be a sign of IBS. The list of conditions mimicking IBS is long.

Dr Naveen, CMO at Nirva, explains, "IBS can also lead to issues with the absorption of nutrients from food, known as malabsorption. As per ayurvedic principles, it's the issue with a disruptive state of body bio-energies and digestive fire, agni." He adds, 'The malabsorption can result in a range of symptoms, such as unintentional weight loss, fatigue, and nutrient deficiencies. 

But did you know that other conditions can closely resemble IBS? Yes, conditions like Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and food intolerances, among others, can cause similar symptoms. 

Hence, if you suspect IBS, do not jump to conclusions. We advise you to consult a healthcare professional for a concrete diagnosis and to discuss the prescribed treatment options.

How Do You Know If You Have Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

 

Maintaining a detailed track record of your symptoms can be immensely helpful when doubling your condition. Moreover, you can do this from the comfort of your home or even on the go to assist with diagnosing IBS. 

The record, as mentioned above, should include information such as;

  • What did you eat before the onset of these symptoms?
  • How often do you experience these symptoms?
  • For how long have you been experiencing the symptoms?
  • What makes your symptoms worse or better?

Consider answering these questions as a part of your IBS symptom checker or checklist.

Understanding your body and monitoring the changes related to your gut health is the best way to recognise and assess for IBS. 

7 Definitive Symptoms to Know if You Have IBS

Please find below the most common seven symptoms associated with the disorder.

Abdominal Pain

Frequent pangs of abdominal pain, ranging from mild to severe, are a hallmark of IBS. This pain usually occurs after eating, worsens with stress or physical activity like exercise, and eases with rest, especially when lying down.

Gas and Bloating

Do you tend to feel puffed up and gassy after a meal (a not-so-huge one)? It can signal increased gas production in your gut. How? It can occur due to bacterial fermentation. The discomfort caused narrates the story of an unhealthy gut that is irritated.

Diarrhoea and Constipation

Diarrhoea and constipation are the two main culprits associated with irritable bowel syndrome. You may continue to experience alternating episodes of these two conditions. On the other hand, one may occur dominantly over the other.

Nausea and Vomiting

Certain foods, like fried or fatty choices or even dairy products, may act as nausea and vomiting triggers for IBS sufferers. 

Fatigue and Weakness

Wrongly treated or untreated IBS can result in you experiencing fatigue and weakness. Why? Due to gut inflammation and difficulty in nutrient absorption.

Mood Changes, Depression, and Anxiety

For all those who still deny it - The gut-brain connection is real! Irritable bowel syndrome can negatively impact your quality of life. Yes, by triggering psychological symptoms like anxiety, mood swings, and even depression. 

Remember: While these seven symptoms are the most definitive ones, experiencing some or all of them does not guarantee you suffer from IBS. So, quit the land of confusion and recognise your symptoms promptly to approach a healthcare provider.

7 Myths On IBS Busted By Nirva Experts

 

As we step into April, the awareness month for IBS, let us get our facts about IBS right. Nirva experts bust some common myths, doing the rounds, about IBS.

Myth #1: My IBS Will Lead to IBD

No! Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) does not directly lead to Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). The two conditions are separate, however, with some overlapping symptoms. 

Due to these coinciding symptoms, IBS is often mistaken as IBD, mainly when inflammation is less severe. Both health conditions share common influences like stress, diet, and gut bacteria. Additionally, even during periods of remission (when symptoms are inactive), individuals with IBD can still experience symptoms that resemble IBS.

Myth #2: I Can Take the Same Medicines My Friend Takes for IBS

No, your symptoms may not be the same as your friend's. As mentioned earlier, they vary from person to person. Moreover, various treatments are available; some may work well for you, and some may not. Sometimes, medicines may worsen your symptoms or cause harmful side effects. Hence, a proper diagnosis is the key.

Myth #3 Cutting Out Dairy and Gluten Can Help Me Get Rid of IBS Symptoms

IBS and food intolerances are separate conditions. Lactose or gluten intolerances do not make up for the symptoms of IBS. 

It is supremely essential to understand the distinction between IBS and food intolerances. While some IBS sufferers experience lactose or gluten intolerance, others with these intolerances may not have IBS.

Myth#4: I Always Have to Visit The Washroom After Eating

No, not everyone with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) needs to always visit the restroom immediately after eating. Yes, IBS tends to create an urgent need for a bowel movement. However, it affects everyone with the condition differently.

So, why is there a rush for some? 

Some people with IBS might experience a more muscular gastrocolic reflex. You can identify the said reflex as a natural response where the colon contracts after eating, moving food through the digestive system more quickly.

Certain foods or drinks can trigger IBS symptoms in these individuals. Identifying and avoiding these triggers can help reduce post-meal urgency.

Also note that stress can worsen IBS symptoms, including the urge to go to the loo.

Myth#5 IBS is Same as Ulcerative Colitis

IBS and Ulcerative colitis (IBD—Irritable Bowel Disease) are digestive conditions affecting the oesophagus, stomach, and intestines. While IBS is a syndrome with a cluster of symptoms, IBD refers to inflammation or chronic swelling of the intestines. There are two forms of IBD: Crohn's disease and Ulcerative colitis. 

Both these IBDs cause chronic inflammation in the gut. They also cause rectal bleeding and diarrhoea, bloating, abdominal cramping, pain, reduced appetite, unintended weight loss and fatigue.

And we are mentioning it again—talking to your healthcare provider and getting a proper diagnosis is essential to ensure the right treatment. 

Myth #6: IBS is a Psychological Disorder!

As one of the most dangerous myths, this belief causes a lot of stigma for those with IBS. 

IBS is a functional disorder, which means there are no obvious visual signs of illness, such as the inflammation present in inflammatory bowel disease. However, it is still a genuine gastrointestinal disorder. 

So, while mental health ailments such as stress, anxiety, and depression can increase symptoms, they do not cause IBS.

Myth #7: IBS Isn't a Big Deal

Some individuals might have mild symptoms, but for others, IBS can change their entire life. This is how:

  1. Repeated and persistent diarrhoea can make your life depend on finding toilets whenever you step out. 
     
  2. IBS with chronic constipation can cause intense pain and bloating. It may intensify with any physical movement. 
     
  3. Symptoms like these can lead to social isolation and missed work or school, which, in turn, can increase depression and other mental health symptoms.

How to Tell if You Have IBS?: The Role of Self-Assessment

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While you cannot treat yourself, assessing based on your symptoms is necessary. Self-assessment confirms whether what you are going through requires medical supervision or not. In other words, you should always seek clarity about what your body is undergoing.

Some self-assessment tools, like online IBS quizzes, have gained immense popularity. Why? It is because;

  • They are easily accessible.
  • They have educational value.
  • They respect anonymity.
  • They guide you in the early detection of symptoms.
  • They spread awareness.

Take this IBS Quiz to Assess Yourself!

Our IBS quiz combines Ayurvedic and modern evaluation to help you access an integrated evaluation of your IBS and gut health. After you attempt the quiz, confirm the result with our health experts by booking a free assessment call! Take advantage of this opportunity.

Even though these self-assessment tools give you enough knowledge, they have limitations. The online IBS quizzes you take may have some notable limitations:

  • The quizzes may be less than 100% accurate. Hence, it would help if you relied on the diagnosis provided by your healthcare provider.
     
  • IBS throws varied symptoms your way. Not all online quizzes capture these. Hence, any prognosis based on the quiz results may lead to a misdiagnosis.
     
  • The results, such as false positive or false negative, may give you unnecessary anxiety or affect you psychologically in other ways.

Even though IBS self-assessment tools offer convenient symptom evaluation, they are only complementary tools. You cannot rely on them as substitutes for professional diagnosis.

How Does a Doctor Test For IBS?

While no single test can confirm the diagnosis of IBS, your healthcare provider might recommend some to rule the condition out specifically. Here's what you might encounter:

Blood Test: It checks for inflammation, antibodies, underlying conditions, and nutritional deficiencies.

Stool Test: This test primarily assesses for an existing infection, bleeding, inflammation, or abnormal bacterial growth in the gut.

Hydrogen Breath Test: It helps detect a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in your gut (SIBO) or a food intolerance. To be precise, both of these are common triggers for IBS.

Some additional diagnostic tests include imaging studies like MRI and CT scans. While these are not routine tests, your health advisor may recommend them to rule out other digestive conditions like Crohn's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis and further confirm your diagnosis.

How To Test for IBS at Home? 

You may find home testing kits for IBS that help you identify the cause of digestive issues associated with types of IBS. Many home test kits require a blood sample from your fingertip. This is to check for antibodies common to several gastrointestinal disorders.

However, many of these home test kits are only available when prescribed by a healthcare professional. Home test kits can help rule out common causes or triggers of digestive symptoms. 

However, your healthcare provider may recommend additional testing if an overlapping symptom concerns other medical issues, such as cancer, gastrointestinal bleeding, or infections. 

These issues and other digestive disorders—especially those involving the bowels—often require more extensive imaging. They may also require testing of blood, tissues, or stool.

The Importance of Professional Diagnosis in Health: Why It's Crucial?

The Importance of Professional Diagnosis in Health_ Why It's Crucial.jpg

As mentioned above, getting the final diagnosis from a healthcare professional is essential. Do not conclude through a self-assessment IBS quiz.

  • When you visit an expert, you get expert advice and accurate diagnoses.
     
  • Moreover, blood examinations and advanced diagnostic and medical tools assess your condition to create a final treatment plan. Your personalised evaluation is necessary to create the best protocol for you.
     
  • You may need continuous monitoring and protocol changes according to your body's response. 

Get evaluated by Nirva experts to get your personalised treatment plan to get relief from IBS.

The Final Thoughts

Understanding your body's signals is the key to optimal health. You must undergo an appropriate diagnostic process to determine if you have IBS. Completing a self-assessment IBS quiz is indeed a fantastic first step! It displays how proactive you are regarding your gut health. Congratulations!

With proper diagnosis and collaboration with healthcare experts, you are ready to start your journey towards an enhanced quality of life—one free of IBS.

It’s time to boost up your knowledge by taking a simple quiz

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