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Is a colonoscopy necessary to treat bloating due to irritable bowel syndrome?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2010
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I have IBS. I have a bowel movement at least three times a day but no more. I've always had constipation. I want to know why am I bloated everyday no matter how often I have a bowel movement and no matter what I eat. My physician recommended a colonoscopy? Is that necessary? I had a colonoscopy 5 years ago. Everything was fine, but I still had and have the bloating problem Can't they tell what's wrong by symptoms alone or other tests?
Sun, 22 Apr 2012 in IBS(Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
Answered by Dr. Tulasi Raman.P 1 hour later

Thanks for your query.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional bowel disorder characterized by abdominal pain or discomfort and altered bowel habits in the absence of detectable structural abnormalities.

1. Altered bowel habit
2. Colicky abdominal pain
3. Abdominal distension (bloating)
4. Rectal mucus
5. Feeling of incomplete defecation

As you see from the above definition IBS is a functional anomaly. So its mostly diagnosed by history, symptoms and ruling out other possible conditions for the symptoms you experience. So basically the diagnosis is by exclusion.

Colonoscopy will not provide any further details in regards to IBS. But it will rule out other causes for your symptoms if any. As its been 5 years since the last colonoscopy it is better to get it done.

I am sorry to say this but there is no cure for IBS till date. The majority of patients with IBS learn to cope with their symptoms and lead productive lives.

Hope I have answered your query. If you have any follow up queries I will be available to answer them.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Is a colonoscopy necessary to treat bloating due to irritable bowel syndrome? 16 minutes later
Do I have to have all those symptoms for it to be IBS? I have some of those symptoms but not all. I'm very worried that it is something more serious than IBS. Since my condition has worsened as I've aged. I'm sure the colonoscopy will rule out or let the doctor know of a more serious condition. I'm just worried about polyps or some sort of cancer. I know these symptoms are the same for other more serious diseases.
Answered by Dr. Tulasi Raman.P 13 hours later

Thanks for writing back to me.

As I said earlier IBS is diagnosed by excluding the other possible disease conditions. So you need not have all the above symptoms for you to have IBS.

It is possible that the symptoms worsens as age progress.

Yes, colonoscopy will help the doctors to rule out any other serious condition.

Regarding the polyps and cancer growth, though some of the symptoms are the same, it cannot be diagnosed by symptoms alone. As you are getting colonoscopy it will definitely be able to pick up those findings which is highly unlikely in your case.

Wish You Good Health.
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