At Your Appointment

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Appointment Guide

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Ask the right questions at your next doctor’s appointment. Answer two questions below to personalize your appointment guide.
  • How often have you had IBS symptoms in the last month? How long did they last?
  • What symptom or symptoms are most bothersome for you?
  • Rate how your symptoms are affecting your quality of life, relationships, and ability to function. Not at all, somewhat, or significantly?
  • What changes have you made to your diet? Do you see a difference with these changes?
  • How much exercise and physical activity do you get during a typical week?
  • Describe your symptoms. Do you experience abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, excessive gas, or mucus in your stool?
  • Do you primarily have diarrhea or constipation? Or do you have alternating bouts of each?
  • When did you first notice your symptoms? Are they persistent or do they come and go?
  • What foods or other triggers seem to make your symptoms worse?
  • Have you recently been under a lot of stress or had emotional difficulties?
  • Do you have a family history of bowel diseases or colon cancer?
  • What side effects are you noticing with your IBS medicine?
  • What tests and treatments have you had so far?
  • What new symptoms are you experiencing?
  • Have you ever been tested for food allergies or intolerances? What were the results?
  • Do my symptoms mean I have IBS?
  • Could my symptoms be caused by another medical condition?
  • What tests do I need to diagnose IBS?
  • What treatments are available for IBS? What can I expect with medication side effects?
  • How do diet and other lifestyle factors affect IBS?
  • What treatment do you recommend for my type of IBS? What are the side effects?
  • What changes do I need to make to my diet?
  • What other lifestyle changes or therapies could help my IBS?
  • How soon can I expect to see improvements in my symptoms?
  • What is the plan if this treatment does not improve my IBS symptoms?
  • Are there other IBS treatments that would do a better job of controlling my symptoms?
  • Are my new or different symptoms related to IBS or is something else going on?
  • Do you believe my symptoms are due to IBS or another problem, such as inflammatory bowel disease? Why do you think this?
  • What role do stress, emotional difficulties, and lifestyle factors play in IBS?
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Last Review Date: 2018 Sep 17
  1. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. 
  2. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. National Institue of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
  3. Irritable Bowel Syndrome Self-Assessment Questions. NetCE Continuing Education.
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  • If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you understand all too well how the condition can affect your life—from work and travel plans to personal relationships. But you have the ability to take control of your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Here are 10 tips for living with IBS to get you started.
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