(BPT) - Millions of people suffer from troubling and sometimes debilitating gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea and/or constipation. When they discuss these symptoms with their healthcare provider they often leave without a clear diagnosis. If you are one of these people, you know this confusion well.

Jeffrey Roberts, founder of the online Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Self Help Support Group (www.ibsgroup.org), has had a lifelong battle with IBS – a gastrointestinal disorder in which symptoms are thought to be due to a dysfunction of the gut. At age 15, he suffered with abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation, which caused him to have to frequently leave class to go to the bathroom. Like many IBS patients, Roberts consulted several doctors and had a battery of medical tests in an effort to find out what was wrong. At first, his symptoms were attributed to stress, leading him to think he could deal with the problem himself. Up to 70 percent of people with IBS do not initially consult their healthcare provider, thinking their symptoms are not serious enough, yet for those patients who do seek treatment for their symptoms, on average, they typically consult more than four healthcare providers before properly being diagnosed with IBS.

After his symptoms worsened, Roberts was finally diagnosed by a gastroenterologist with IBS in his early 20s. Now, at age 53, IBS still impacts many aspects of his life, including his work, social life and family. Each time he experiences a flare-up, it can last for as little as one day or as long as a month. During severe flare-ups, he occasionally feels overwhelmed and depressed by the illness.

Though IBS is the most common gastrointestinal disorder in the U.S., affecting approximately 40 million Americans, the symptoms can be difficult to diagnose. Traditionally, a diagnosis of IBS was made after excluding all other conditions. Multiple costly diagnostic tests were required over an average period of five years to rule out other conditions. This represents an extremely frustrating and lonely situation for patients who know something is wrong but cannot get a correct answer as to the cause.

“I hear from many people who find reassurance in just knowing that there are other people out there who feel the same way they do,” says Roberts. “Many are seeking validation that IBS is a real illness.”

Now, a simple new blood test is available that allows doctors to reliably diagnose IBS within 24 hours of specimen receipt.  IBSchek(TM) is the only enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) based blood test that identifies IBS based on the presence of two antibodies in the blood that are caused by an infection in the gut. IBSchek detects levels of an antibody to a toxin from gastroenteritis called CdtB (cytolethal distending toxin B), as well as vinculin, an antibody that forms against the body.

“Unfortunately many IBS sufferers are living with the condition without a diagnosis, either because they do not consult a health care provider or they have been misdiagnosed,” says Mark Pimentel, M.D., FRCPC, director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Program and Laboratory at Cedars-Sinai. “IBSchek is an unprecedented step forward that changes the way IBS is diagnosed. It offers patients an opportunity to reengage with their physicians about their symptoms so they can finally get a diagnosis and confirmation that they have a real illness.”

Instead of having to rule out several other conditions, IBSchek allows healthcare providers to conclusively identify IBS in a simple, patient-friendly way, and eliminates the frustration and costs associated with delays in diagnosis and treatment.

Any medical practitioner that has prescribing rights in his or her state of residence can order IBSchek. The test addresses the needs of IBS patients with gastrointestinal discomfort by either confirming an IBS diagnosis, or potentially eliminating it as a cause of symptoms. For more information, visit http://www.IBSchek.com.