Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diagnosis

Do I need any tests for irritable bowel syndrome?

There is no test that confirms the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A doctor can usually diagnose IBS from the typical symptoms. However, your doctor will check that there is nothing else going on. Usually this will include an examination of your tummy (abdomen) and some simple tests.

A blood test and stool (faeces) test are often taken to help rule out other conditions such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, coeliac disease, cancer of the ovary, or a gut infection. The symptoms of these other diseases can sometimes be confused with IBS. The tests that are often considered to rule out other conditions include:

  • Full blood count (FBC) - to rule out lack of iron in the blood (anaemia), which is associated with various gut (bowel) disorders.
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) or C-reactive protein (CRP) - which can show if there is inflammation in the body (which does not occur with IBS).
  • A blood test for coeliac disease.
  • In women, a blood test to rule out cancer of the ovary, called CA 125.
  • A stool test to look for a protein called faecal calprotectin. This may be present if you have Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, but is not present in IBS. A stool test may also be used to check whether you have any bleeding from your bowel.

More complicated tests such as gastroscopy or colonoscopy (to look into the bowel with a special telescope) are not usually needed. However, they may be done if symptoms are not typical, or if you develop symptoms of IBS in later life (over the age of about 50) when other conditions need to be ruled out.

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Dr Colin Tidy
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Adrian Bonsall
Document ID:
4286 (v49)
Last Checked:
02 July 2017
Next Review:
01 July 2020

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.