How Is Irritable Bowel Disease Diagnosed?

Irritable Bowel Disease or IBD is a chronic group of disorders affecting the gastrointestinal tract. It is characterized by symptoms that include chronic inflammation of the bowel. It is a debilitating disease and as it affects the tissues of the digestive tract, it increases the risk of cancer and can even be fatal.

The following are the two common conditions of IBD

  • Crohn’s disease–This is characterized by deep inflammation of tissues of the digestive tract
  • Ulcerative colitis–It involves chronic inflammation of the innermost lining of the colon and rectum

The following are the symptoms of IBD

  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in stool
  • Abdominal pain, cramping and bloating
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia

Though it is difficult to exactly pinpoint the reason for IBD, various reasons such as genetics and the immune system could play a role. The following diagnostic tests are used to see if a person is affected by IBD.

  1. Stool examination

Stool samples are examined to rule out infections and also to check if there is bleeding inside the intestinal tract.

  1. Blood count

An increase in white blood cells in your blood indicates inflammation. The red blood cell count and hemoglobin levels indicate bleeding.

  1. X-ray
    1. Barium X-ray – Any changes in the gastrointestinal tract caused due to IBD can be checked by a Barium x-ray
    2. Computed tomography or CT scan
    3. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan)
  2. Ultrasound

Ultrasonic sound waves can also be used to detect changes in the digestive tract caused due to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

  1. Sigmoidoscopy

The rectum and the colon are visually checked for inflammation and bleeding using a sigmoidoscope. It is a flexible tube with a camera in the end. The same instrument can also take tissue samples for biopsy.

  1. Colonoscopy

This is similar to sigmoidoscopy but uses a colonoscope which is much longer than a sigmoidoscope. The entire colon can be examined in this method for bleeding and other abnormalities.

  1. Endoscopy

An endoscope is a long tube with a camera and light in the end. It is used to examine the esophagus, stomach, and part of the small intestine.