Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is often referred to as a functional disorder. Testing is often normal, although a thorough evaluation should take place. Patients, often, but not exclusively, female report alternating constipation and diarrhea associated with crampy abdominal pains that are relieved with a bowel movement. The stools can be described as pencil thin. There varying presentations of IBS that can be constipation or diarrhea predominant. Often high fiber and fluid diets are recommended, but, unfortunately are not always helpful. While IBS can severely affect quality of life, it is unusual to experience fever, marked weight loss or bleeding. Such alarm symptoms, including a change in bowel habits, warrant immediate medical attention. Tests often performed in the diagnostic evaluation include stool studies for infection, routine lab work, and colonoscopy.
More recently, there has been attention given to the possibility of bacterial overgrowth in the intestine that may contribute to IBS. Intestinal bacterial overgrowth can be tested noninvasively by way of breath testing. Dr. Starpoli offers breath testing for bacterial overgrowth that may help in the management of IBS.