digestive health clinic cork digestion nutrition nutritionist diet dietician advice help tip ibs irritable bowl syndrome relief symptoms ibs cork ireland county cork city
Testing for IBS

How to Test for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

March 19, 2024

Hello, wonderful readers! I'm Aoife McDonald, Cork dietitian and passionate founder of the Digestive Health Clinic. With a deep-seated love for nutrition and an unwavering commitment to improving gut health, my journey has been profoundly shaped by the diverse needs of those I work with, particularly individuals battling Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). As a dedicated Cork dietitian, I’ve devoted much of my career to unravelling the mysteries of nutrition and gut health, and it’s my pleasure to share this journey with you.

Understanding Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is more than an inconvenience; it's a complex, multifaceted condition affecting millions worldwide. Characterised by symptoms such as persistent abdominal pain, bloating, and altered bowel habits (including diarrhoea and constipation), IBS significantly impacts the quality of life. Unlike other digestive disorders, IBS is a functional gastrointestinal disorder, meaning it's identified by symptoms rather than distinct biological markers. Understanding IBS is crucial for navigating the path to effective management and finding relief from its often debilitating symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of IBS

Identifying IBS involves more than recognising occasional digestive discomfort. Sufferers typically experience chronic symptoms that significantly affect daily life. These include abdominal pain linked to bowel movements, changes in stool frequency or form, and bloating. However, symptoms can extend beyond the gut, encompassing fatigue, anxiety, and depression, highlighting the condition's systemic nature. By understanding the full spectrum of IBS symptoms, individuals can better articulate their experiences to healthcare providers, paving the way for effective treatment strategies.

When to Seek Testing

I would always advise that when you start experiencing new or worsening symptoms like bloating, irregular bowel movements, or unexplained changes in weight, it's crucial to listen to what your body is telling you. These signs can be indicative of an unhealthy gut, possibly pointing towards Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) among other conditions.

At this critical juncture, speaking to a healthcare professional becomes imperative. In my clinic, I've observed that timely intervention by a specialist not only aids in the accurate diagnosis but also in crafting a tailored treatment plan. It's essential to undergo appropriate tests under the guidance of a professional who understands the intricacies of digestive health. These tests go beyond just identifying the symptoms; they help in ruling out other potential illnesses that might mimic IBS, ensuring that the treatment plan addresses your specific needs.

Professional Diagnostic Tests for IBS

While there's no single test to definitively diagnose IBS, various medical assessments help rule out other conditions. Tests may include blood screenings for celiac disease, lactose intolerance assessments, stool tests for infections, and colonoscopies to examine the colon's interior. However, it's crucial to understand that these tests primarily exclude other diagnoses rather than confirming IBS. The diagnosis of IBS often follows the Rome IV criteria, based on symptom patterns and duration.

The Role of Elimination Diets and Food Tracking

Dietary management is a cornerstone of IBS symptom control. By tracking, eliminating and then gradually reintroducing certain foods, individuals can identify specific dietary triggers and adjust their eating habits accordingly. However, this process should not be navigated alone; guidance from dietitians or nutrition experts ensures a balanced diet and prevents unnecessary dietary restrictions. 

A New Chapter: Life Post-Diagnosis

Receiving an IBS diagnosis marks the beginning of a new chapter – one of proactive management and adaptation. It’s about embracing a multifaceted approach that includes not just dietary changes but also lifestyle adjustments and stress management techniques. It’s a lifelong commitment to your well-being.

Now, let me introduce you to something I hold dear – our IBS Relief Programme. This comprehensive programme is the culmination of years of experience and dedication to gut health. It’s designed to offer a personalised approach to managing IBS, providing you with the tools and support you need to regain control of your life.

The IBS Relief Programme includes:

Personalised Consultations: One-on-one sessions tailored to your unique needs and symptoms.

Weekly Check-ins: Regular emails to monitor your progress and adjust strategies as needed.

Dietary Guidance: Expert advice on managing your diet, identifying triggers, and developing a balanced eating plan.

Stress Management Techniques: Practical tips for reducing stress and improving your overall well-being.

Exclusive Resources: Access to our library of recipes, meal plans, and informational guides designed to simplify your journey.

This programme isn’t just about symptom management; it’s about empowering you to make informed decisions about your health and lifestyle. It’s about finding a balance that works for you and enjoying life to the fullest, without IBS holding you back.

If you’re tired of letting IBS dictate your days and are ready to take the first step towards lasting relief, the Digestive Health Clinic is here for you. Together, we can explore your symptoms, develop a tailored plan, and embark on a journey towards a happier, healthier gut. Remember, you’re not alone in this – I’m here to guide and support you every step of the way.


IBS might be a lifelong companion, but it doesn’t have to be your defining feature. With the right understanding, management strategies, and support, you can lead a fulfilling life, rich with the joys of good food, good health, and overall well-being. Reach out today, and let’s start this transformative journey together. Your gut health is your gateway to a brighter, more comfortable future.

Our insights

Over the years we have gained some experience. Every month we like to share them with you. Check in with our blog.

Sorry there are no blogs posted yet