In what is thought to be a world first, scientists have developed a new set of blood tests to diagnose irritable bowel syndrome.
The diagnostic tool can quickly and accurately diagnose the painful condition, offering hope to millions afflicted across the world.
There are currently no specific tests routinely used by doctors to identify IBS.
As a result, millions of patients undergo invasive investigations to rule out other, more serious conditions including bowel cancer and Crohn’s disease, before specialists can arrive at a diagnosis.
Gastroenterologist Dr Mark Pimentel, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in LA, believes his new method could help secure an early diagnosis for patients, avoiding the need for years of medical appointments.
He said the tests confirm when an individual has developed IBS as a result of food poisoning, a major cause of the disorder.
Toxins produced by bacteria, such as salmonella, can severely harm the digestive system by damaging nerves critical to healthy gut function.
The new blood tests identify the presence and amount of specific antibodies reacting to the toxins.
Dr Pimentel said: ‘Having an early diagnosis means patients can avoid years of invasive tests and visits to specialists that often leave them with more questions than answers.
‘With these new blood tests many patients will now be able to proceed right to therapy for their condition.’
IBS is the most common gastroenterological disorder plaguing patients in the US, affecting nearly 40 million people.
In the UK, one in five people suffers the condition, while an estimated 10 per cent of the world’s population are affected.
Dr Pimentel said the disorder has been ‘nearly impossible to diagnose until now’.
It is characterised by a cluster of confounding symptoms, including chronic bloating, abdominal pain, gas, and bouts of relentless diarrhoea, constipation or both.
Fatigue and the stress patients suffer as a result of trying to plan their lives around visits to the bathroom, can prove debilitating.
Read more at: MAilOnline