Millions of people suffer from the effects of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) — chronic bloating, abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea or constipation — although the malady itself, let alone the cause, has been notoriously difficult to diagnose. Now, however, a physician at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles has developed two blood tests that can accurately detect the problem and have the results back to the patient’s doctor within 24 hours. The new tests, called IBSchek, will also detect whether a person developed IBS symptoms from a foodborne pathogen. The tests were developed by Mark Pimentel, MD, a board-certified gastroenterologist and director of the hospital’s GI Motility Program and Laboratory. He told Food Safety News that the majority of IBS cases could be derived from food poisoning someone contracted in the past. “The most common ones are pathogenic E. coli, Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella and Shigella,” he said. “The problem is that if a patient has had IBS for 20 years, they may not remember the food poisoning or couple of days of diarrhea that started it all unless that event was memorably profound such as hospitalization, blood in stool and other events.” The new tests can identify the presence and amount of specific antibodies in the blood which react to toxins produced by foodborne or other bacteria. Pimentel noted that the tests cannot currently tell which bug it was, “but we can tell the IBS patient that food poisoning is the likely source for their IBS.” He added that the patient can then be diagnosed as having IBS rather than inflammatory bowel disease or another chronic gastrointestinal difficulty. “With a scope, the inflammatory bowel is inflamed and ulcerated,” Pimentel explained. “With IBS, you don’t see anything, so nothing is visibly wrong. That’s what makes IBS so difficult to diagnose.” Diagnosing IBS with these new blood tests won’t predict what therapy a person should use, he noted, but it could help limit time and trouble for those who haven’t had a clear picture of what’s wrong with them. “The problem with IBS is that people run around for years getting colonoscopies and getting therapy for IBS right away. The big advancement here is you don’t run around for years trying to figure out this is IBS,” Pimentel said. He will present the related research findings on Sunday at a Digestive Disease Week session in Washington, D.C, and the tests will available for order by U.S. physicians on Monday, Pimentel said. He added that the test is quite inexpensive. More information on them is available here. The research team’s results, including data from clinical trials involving about 3,000 patients, were published May 13, 2015, in the scientific journal PLOS ONE. The IBSchek tests are being produced by Commonwealth Laboratories Inc. of Salem, MA, with which Cedars-Sinai has an exclusive license agreement.