Finding the Right Doctor for Your IBS - dummies

Finding the Right Doctor for Your IBS

By Patricia Macnair

Part of IBS For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

If you suspect that you have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), you want to find a caring doctor with a history of working with IBS patients. When you meet a new doctor for the first time, take this list of questions along with you.

  • Do you have patients with IBS? This may be the only question you need to ask. Keep in mind that up to 20 per cent of the population suffers from IBS. If a doctor says that she doesn’t have patients with IBS, she may have selective vision.

  • What do you think causes IBS? Lots of theories exist about what causes IBS. Ideally, you want a doctor to admit that the medical community hasn’t identified a single cause, but many triggers (such as diet and stress) play a role. If she claims to know what causes IBS 100 per cent of the time, ask for clarification, and be prepared to walk away.

  • How do you diagnose IBS? If your doctor mentions something called the Rome II criteria that’s a great sign. You also want to hear that she runs tests to rule out other bowel conditions, as well as to rule out conditions with similar symptoms.

  • What role does diet play in IBS? Most people with IBS are very aware that what they eat can trigger symptoms. You want your doctor to know that connection exists as well and to be aware that food allergies and intolerances can masquerade as IBS.

  • How do you treat IBS? You want to hear a doctor say that a variety of treatment options exist, and the right treatment plan is one that you and she create together. She should mention the importance of improving your diet, getting regular exercise, and reducing stress.

    She may also mention medication or dietary supplements. An answer focused solely on medication isn’t ideal. While drugs help some people with IBS, they don’t cure the condition, and they don’t work for everyone.