If you think you might have irritable bowel syndrome, collect various pieces of information so you can have a fruitful discussion with your doctor about your condition. For example, determine if anyone in your family has a history of IBS, and figure out when your symptoms began. Also, create a record of the treatment options you've tried and how successful they've been.

It's also useful to fill out a questionnaire about your symptoms, such as the one below.

Describe your symptoms. Circle all that apply.

Abdominal cramping
Abdominal pain on the left side
Straining with a bowel movement
Other _______________________________________

How long have you had these symptoms? Circle one.

A few weeks
About 12 weeks
About 6 months
Less than 1 year
Less than 5 years
5 to 10 years

How often do you have these symptoms? Circle one.

Once per month
Once per week
Every day
Several times per day