Experts on digestive diseases developed these criteria,
known as the Rome III criteria, to help doctors determine whether symptoms are
irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). You meet the Rome III
criteria for IBS if your symptoms began at least 6 months ago, you have had
abdominal (belly) pain or discomfort at least 3 days each month in the last 3 months,
and at least two of the following statements are true:1
- The pain is relieved by having a bowel
- The pain is linked to a change in how often you have a
- The pain is linked to a change in the appearance or
consistency of your stool.
Having any of the following symptoms supports the diagnosis
- A change in how often you pass stool (more than 3
times a day or less than 3 times a week)
- A change in the form of
your stool (such as lumpy and hard or watery and loose)
- A change in
the way stool passes (you may have to strain, you may feel an urgent need to
pass stool, or you may feel like you have not completely passed a
- Passing of mucus in the stool
- Bloating or a
feeling like your stomach is stretched out
These criteria are used along with a medical history and
physical exam to help your doctor determine whether you have IBS.
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
Decision Points focus on key medical care decisions that are important to many health problems.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Should I Have Tests for IBS Symptoms?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Should I Have Tests for IBS Symptoms?
Medical History and Physical Exam for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Longstreth GF, et al. (2006). Irritable bowel syndrome section of Functional bowel disorders. In DA Drossman et al., eds., Rome III: The Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, 3rd ed., pp. 490–509. McLean, VA: Degnon Associates.