IBS Blood Test

What is IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal condition that can be mildly or severely uncomfortable. It can cause diarrhea, known as IBS-D, or constipation, known as IBS-C—or both, which is known as IBS-M (mixed). IBS may last a long time and produce symptoms caused by a spastic colon or bowel.

Symptoms of IBS include:

  • Stomach cramps or pain that is on and off
  • Having either diarrhea or constipation, or both
  • Being gassy
  • Bloating
  • Bowel habit changes
  • Food intolerance

While most people may occasionally experience IBS symptoms, some populations have an increased risk of the symptoms being considered IBS, such as the following groups:

  • Younger people (IBS is most common in people under 45)
  • Women (women are twice as likely as men to have IBS)
  • People with a family history of IBS

If you fall into one of these groups or you’re experiencing any of the symptoms, ask your doctor about IBS. Although IBS is common, with about 1 in 5 people suffering from it, diagnosing it can be hard.

Blood testing for IBS

Until recently, if you suspected you had IBS, it could take a long time—possibly years—for doctors to diagnose it. This is because symptoms similar to IBS can be found in other medical conditions, such as celiac disease. Before doctors could diagnose IBS, you would need to take numerous tests to rule out other medical conditions first.

These tests often included:

  • Blood test for celiac disease
  • Physical exam
  • Sedimentation rate, checking for inflammation in the body
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Stool analysis
  • Colonoscopy
  • Thyroid function tests

Going to all of the appointments and lab visits to take these tests made it difficult for patients to achieve timely relief from the symptoms of IBS.

Thankfully, a recent discovery has made diagnosing IBS as simple as taking a blood test. Doctors have learned that IBS can be traced to a patient’s past encounter with food poisoning. When the patient became ill from food poisoning, in an effort to protect itself, the body created two substances to fight germs. Those same two substances can be located in individuals with IBS. The blood test detects if those substances are present and reportedly had greater than 90% accuracy when it was researched. This new test can help patients learn sooner if they have IBS, and therefore start treatment earlier.

How Do I Take the Test?

You can take the test at you doctor’s office, lab, or at a patient service center used by testing companies like Quest Diagnostics. With Quest Diagnostics, you can find a service center close to you, schedule an appointment, visit the lab to take the test, and then wait about 72 hours to receive your results, which will be emailed to you.

Since this test is still relatively new, there is currently only one IBS blood test you can take at home. Health Test Express offers a combined IBS and IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) test that regularly costs $699, but if you’re a new user, you can use a promotional code and purchase it for $594. If you’re going to use the home IBS blood test, here’s how it works:

1

Order your test online.

After you order your test, the kit will arrive in 5-7 business days. To avoid contamination, do not open your kit. The phlebotomist who collects the blood sample will use the kit.

2

Schedule a time for the phlebotomist to do a blood draw.

Within 1 business day after you order your test, a member from the company’s medical team will call you to schedule an appointment for the phlebotomist to visit your home and collect the sample using the test kit.

3

Get your results.

The phlebotomist will send your sample to the lab. After the sample is received, you will be notified of your results in 10-12 business days. Included in the cost of the kit is a consultation with one of the company’s doctors so you can better understand your results.

How Reliable Is the IBS Blood Test?

Quest Diagnostics states that tests may have positive or inconclusive results. A report with positive results means your symptoms are likely caused by IBS and can be treated. You’ll need to talk with your doctor to learn more about treatment suited to you. A report with an inconclusive result means your doctor will possibly need to have additional tests done to learn why you’re having symptoms of IBS.

If you take a home IBS test from a company such as Health Test Express, it is intended to detect the absence or presence of IBS or IBD. The results show whether or not IBS or IBD are consistent with your gene expression profile. Samples are sent to CLIA-certified labs. Once results are received, it’s recommended that you share them with your doctor. The earlier IBS is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin, and the uncomfortable symptoms of IBS can be avoided and resolved.

More Home Health Tests

Learn about other at-home health test kits:

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