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Misdiagnosis of Irritable bowel syndrome

Misdiagnosis of Irritable bowel syndrome

A diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome may missed or delayed because its symptoms may be mistaken for symptoms of such conditions as gastroenteritis, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, food poisoning, appendicitis, pancreatitis, or diverticulosis. Only a thorough evaluation by a qualified health care professional can determine what is causing particular symptoms and make a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome....more about Irritable bowel syndrome »

Alternative diagnoses list for Irritable bowel syndrome:

For a diagnosis of Irritable bowel syndrome, the following list of conditions have been mentioned in sources as possible alternative diagnoses to consider during the diagnostic process for Irritable bowel syndrome:

Diseases for which Irritable bowel syndrome may be an alternative diagnosis

The other diseases for which Irritable bowel syndrome is listed as a possible alternative diagnosis in their lists include:

Irritable bowel syndrome: Hidden Causes Misdiagnosed?

Causes of Irritable bowel syndrome may include these medical conditions:

Rare Types of Irritable bowel syndrome:

Irritable bowel syndrome: Medical Mistakes

Related medical mistakes may include:

Irritable bowel syndrome: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed conditions in related areas may include:

Discussion of diagnosis/misdiagnosis of Irritable bowel syndrome:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: NIDDK (Excerpt)

If you are concerned about IBS, it is important to realize that normal bowel function varies from person to person. Normal bowel movements range from as many as three stools a day to as few as three a week. A normal movement is one that is formed but not hard, contains no blood, and is passed without cramps or pain.

People with IBS, on the other hand, usually have crampy abdominal pain with painful constipation or diarrhea. In some people, constipation and diarrhea alternate. Sometimes people with IBS pass mucus with their bowel movements. Bleeding, fever, weight loss, and persistent severe pain are not symptoms of IBS but may indicate other problems. (Source: excerpt from Irritable Bowel Syndrome: NIDDK)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: NWHIC (Excerpt)

You may have heard IBS referred to as "spastic colon" or "spastic bowel." Sometimes IBS is confused with inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis. But IBS is not a disease and does not cause inflammation, bleeding, damage to the bowel, or cancer or other serious diseases. It is called a functional disorder, which means that there is no sign of disease when the colon is examined, but the bowel doesn't work as it should. The cause of IBS is not known, and as yet there is no cure. (Source: excerpt from Irritable Bowel Syndrome: NWHIC)

Common Misdiagnoses and Irritable bowel syndrome

Chronic digestive conditions often misdiagnosed: When diagnosing chronic symptoms of the digestive tract, there are a variety of conditions that may be misdiagnosed. The best known, irritable bowel syndrome, is over-diagnosed, whereas other causes that are less known may be overlooked or misdiagnosed: celiac disease, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis (both are called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)), diabetic gastroparesis, diabetic diarrhea. Other possibilities include giardia, colon cancer, or other chronic infections.

Intestinal bacteria disorder may be hidden cause: One of the lesser known causes of diarrhea is an imbalance of bacterial in the gut, sometimes called intestinal imbalance. The digestive system contains a variety of "good" bacteria that aid digestion, and they can decline for various reasons, leading to digestive symptoms such as diarrhea. The main treatment is to eat foods containing probiotics, typically yoghurt cultures. See intestinal imbalance and probiotics.

Antibiotics often causes diarrhea: The use of antibiotics are very likely to cause some level of diarrhea in patients. The reason is that antibiotics kill off not only "bad" bacteria, but can also kill the "good" bacteria in the gut. This leads to "digestive imbalance" where there are too few remaining "good" bacteria in the digestive system. The treatment is typically to use "probiotics", such as by eating yoghurt cultures containing more of the good bacteria. See digestive imbalance and probiotics.

Food poisoning may actually be an infectious disease: Many people who come down with "stomach symptoms" like diarrhea assume that it's "something I ate" (i.e. food poisoning). In fact, it's more likely to be an infectious diarrheal illness (i.e. infectious diarrhea), that has been caught from another person. Such conditions may be transmitted via the fecal-oral route.

Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the more feared conditions for a child with abdominal pain, it can be over-diagnosed (it can, of course, also fail to be diagnosed with fatal effect). One of the most common misdiagnosed is for children with mesenteric adenitis to be misdiagnosed as appendicitis. Fortunately, thus misdiagnosis is usually less serious than the reverse failure to diagnose appendicitis.

Celiac disease often fails to be diagnosed cause of chronic digestive symptoms: One of the most common chronic digestive conditions is celiac disease, a malabsorption disorder with a variety of symptoms (see symptoms of celiac disease). A variety of other chronic digestive disorders tend to be diagnosed rather than this condition. See introduction to celiac disease or misdiagnosis of celiac disease.

Chronic digestive diseases hard to diagnose: There is an inherent difficulty in diagnosing the various types of chronic digestive diseases. Some of the better known possibilities are peptic ulcer, colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, or GERD. Other sometimes overlooked possibilities include Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, chronic appendicitis, Celiac disease, Carcinoid syndrome, gastroparesis, and others. See all types of chronic digestive diseases.

Irritable bowel syndrome: Rare Types

Rare types of medical disorders and diseases in related medical areas:

Failure To Diagnose Irritable bowel syndrome

Failure to diagnose Irritable bowel syndrome may be associated with the following:

  • Many people with irritable bowel syndrome fail to seek treatment from a health professional for their condition
  • Failure to diagnose IBS may result in chronic symptoms such as anemia, weight loss, fever and gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Many children with IBS remain undiagnosed. When an adult is finally diagnosed with IBS they can often trace their history back to abdominal symptoms during childhood. About half of the patients with IBS have onset of symptoms before the age of 35
  • Undiagnosed IBS in children is a significant cause of childhood absenteeism from school
  • IBS tends to be a chronic rather than an acute condition and thus patients are less likely to seek treatment or be diagnosed
  • IBS is a condition that does not start in old age though a failure to diagnose earlier in life may lead to an elderly patient presenting with IBS symptoms. As the patient is older, health professionals tend to automatically exclude the diagnosis of IBS unless the patient points out that their symptoms started earlier in life
  • Failure to diagnose IBS can have a serious impact on quality of life
  • Failure to diagnose IBS can lead to complications such as depression, dehydration and malnutrition

Notes On Hidden Causes Of Irritable bowel syndrome

The following may be hidden causes of Irritable bowel syndrome:

  • Possible triggers for IBS include: gastrointestinal infection, antibiotic therapy, pelvic surgery, psychological stress, psychological trauma, sexual abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse, mood disturbances, anxiety, depression, eating disorders and food intolerances
  • Other triggers for IBS may include bowel infection, food irritation, lactose intolerance, low-fibre diet, high intake of fatty foods, laxative overuse, antibiotic use, codeine-containing analgesic use and psychological factors
  • There is no definitive cause for IBS but there are a number of factors that may trigger the onset of symptoms, exacerbate symptoms. Certain conditions such as anxiety are considered to be predisposing factors for IBS
  • Smoking, alcohol, laxatives and codeine can exacerbate symptoms
  • Females who have had a hysterectomy are much more likely to have IBS
  • Females who have a history of abdominal surgery, chronic pelvic pain, painful menstruation and pain during sex are more likely to have IBS

Notes On Wrong Diagnosis Of Irritable bowel syndrome

Wrong diagnosis of Irritable bowel syndrome may be associated with the following:

  • The alternating diarrhea and constipation caused by IBS may be misdiagnosed as diverticular disease, carcinoma of colon or incomplete bowel obstruction
  • IBS is relatively common but is relatively difficult to diagnose conclusively. Often, diagnostic tests and consultation are over-used
  • Certain symptoms may lead to a wrong diagnosis even though they are not symptoms associated with IBS. These symptoms include weight loss, fever, rectal bleeding, fatty stool and diarrhea not associated with pain. IBS symptoms are also chronic, intermittent or recurring rather than acute and are generally not progressive. Also, IBS symptoms are generally absent at night during sleep
  • IBS may be overdiagnosed as patients with gastrointestinal symptoms are diagnosed with the condition when other possible causes of the symptoms are excluded

Complications Of Misdiagnosis Of Irritable bowel syndrome

The following may be complications of misdiagnosis of Irritable bowel syndrome:

  • There is no specific test for conclusively diagnosing IBS which increases the risk of misdiagnosing or failure to diagnose. The type of testing used should be determined by the type of symptoms presented and other factors such as age. IBS is often diagnosed through exclusion of other possible diagnoses

Other Notes On Misdiagnosis Of Irritable bowel syndrome

  • Females are more likely to seek treatment for IBS than males
  • Females tend to be more likely to take not of abdominal symptoms than males
  • IBS often coexists with other disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and temporomandibular joint dysfunction
  • Up to 30% of cases of IBS are preceded by an infectious form of diarrhea
  • Risk factors for IBS include female gender, severity and duration of preceding infectious diarrhea, anxiety, stress, major life events and a neurotic or hypochondriac personality
  • IBS sufferers are more prone to anxiety and depression than the general population
  • Many patients are fearful that the condition carries an increased risk of malignancy - there is no evidence that this is the case.
  • Symptoms may become temporarily worse during menstrual periods
  • IBS has a significant impact on the workforce due to absenteeism and reduced productivity. The impact on healthcare costs is also significant
  • IBS rarely starts in patients over 50. It may be present in older people but the onset is usually earlier in life
  • Though a low-fiber diet has been implicated with IBS, increasing fiber in diets fails to help the majority of patients and can make symptoms worse in some. Interestingly though, populations that tend to have a high-fiber diet tend to be less prone to IBS
  • Recent studies indicate that bacterial overgrowth may play a role in IBS and thus treatment with antibiotics and probiotics may be useful
  • The majority of cases of IBS can take years and many visits to health professionals to diagnose
  • IBS tends to fluctuate and treatment needs to be adjusted accordingly
  • Many health professionals don't consider IBS as a distinct disease

Medical news summaries about misdiagnosis of Irritable bowel syndrome:

The following medical news items are relevant to misdiagnosis of Irritable bowel syndrome:

General Misdiagnosis Articles

Read these general articles with an overview of misdiagnosis issues.

About misdiagnosis:

When checking for a misdiagnosis of Irritable bowel syndrome or confirming a diagnosis of Irritable bowel syndrome, it is useful to consider what other medical conditions might be possible misdiagnoses or other alternative conditions relevant to diagnosis. These alternate diagnoses of Irritable bowel syndrome may already have been considered by your doctor or may need to be considered as possible alternative diagnoses or candidates for misdiagnosis of Irritable bowel syndrome. For a general overview of misdiagnosis issues for all diseases, see Overview of Misdiagnosis.


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