Dr. Prabhakar Swaroop, a gastroenterologist and irritable bowel syndrome expert at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, said irritable bowel syndrome can make life miserable. Symptoms might include chronic abdominal pain, gas, bloating and discomfort.
There is no specific test for irritable bowel syndrome but a diagnosis is made after excluding other disorders, Swaroop said.
"The clinical diagnostic criteria are very good in diagnosing irritable bowel syndrome," Swaroop said in a statement. "Unfortunately, many of the patients end up going through extensive testing before coming to the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome. Seeing someone who specializes in irritable bowel syndrome is important so that tests are minimized."
Several conditions have symptoms that mimic those of irritable bowel syndrome, including celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, gastrointestinal tract infections and, in some cases, even cancer, Swaroop said.
"Because of these disease similarities, an accurate diagnosis is critical," Swaroop said.