Why is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) underdiagnosed?

Many people who have symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) don’t discuss the problem with healthcare professionals and therefore remain undiagnosed. Only an estimated 5% to 7% of those with IBS receive a diagnosis.

For those who do seek help, doctors may tell them that their symptoms are stress-related or psychological—“It’s all in your head.” It takes an average of 6.6 years to get an IBS diagnosis, according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders.

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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is often underdiagnosed because many other diagnoses must be considered and proven to not be the true diagnosis in order to diagnose IBS. Also, IBS symptoms can mimic other disorders and it can be challenging to figure out if a person's symptoms are related to IBS or some other underlying cause.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.