Crohns Diagnosis. Diagnosing Crohns Disease.

Crohns diagnosis. Crohns disease pain. Living with Crohns. Symptoms of Chrons disease.

It’s not so simple diagnosing Crohns disease. There are many things that are evaluated and tested to get a Crohns disease diagnosis. Labs are done, scans, bowel X-rays, etc. Symptoms, history and patient presentation are all evaluated and the doctor makes a final diagnosis. Crohns diagnosis is not so clear cut most of the time.

Crohn's gets misdiagnosed for other digestive diseases like IBS, Ulcerative colitis, Celiac and others. In fact about 10 percent of patients that are in between of Ulcerative colitis and Crohns are diagnosed with something called intermediate colitis.

Symptoms of Crohn disease:

The most common symptoms of Crohns disease are abdominal pain (often in the right side), diarrhea, weight loss, fever, bloating, and blood in stools. It’s not easy dealing with Crohns disease pain. Crohns disease pain needs to be looked at more as a spasmodic type of pain and a lot of times its successfully treated with an antispasmodics rather than narcotic pain killer, unless the flare-up is severe.

“Is there a specific blood test to diagnose Crohns disease?”

No, there is no specific blood test for Crohns disease. But the doctors look at certain inflammatory markers in the blood. For example, inflammatory markers like CRP and ESR can be chronically elevated in Crohns patients.

When checking the blood, many patients with Crohn’s disease have antibodies to certain proteins. The examples would be E.coli (Escherichia Coli), Brewer’s Yeast (Saccharomyces Cerevisiae) and Baker’s Yeast. Most healthy people don’t have those antibodies present in the blood.

Lab Tests – Diagnosing Crohns Disease

Your doctor (gastroenterologist) may want to order labs to look for any problems that are associated with Inflammatory Bowel Disease like Crohn's disease.

Generally, those tests would check for signs and symptoms of internal bleeding, infection and inflammation. Also, the doctor would look for low levels of minerals, iron and protein.

Lab tests may be :

  • White blood cell or WBC counts
  • Red blood cell counts
  • Blood mineral levels
  • Blood protein levels
  • Blood sedimentation rates
  • Stool samples (occult blood) to check for blood or infections

Crohns Diagnosis – Endoscopy And Imaging

As a part of diagnosing Crohns disease, the doctor would most likely order:

  • Barium X-rays or other X-rays
  • CT scans
  • Sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy
  • And sometimes endoscopy or video capsule endoscopy

Crohns Diagnosis – X-Rays And Barium X-Rays

Barium X-ray can be particularly useful because it can show where and how bad the case of Crohn's disease is. It can be even more useful for finding any problems in parts of the small intestine that can't be easily viewed by other methods and techniques.

Barium makes it easier to view the affected area of the intestines and colon. Barium appears white on the X-ray. This test helps to see exactly how much of the area is affected. Barium that looks chalky but tastes Ok is given by mouth or through the rectum. During the upper GI series, barium mixture (banana flavor tasted not bad) is given by mouth. When they give barium rectally, it would be called a barium enema. After the barium X-ray is done, your doctor would be able to see narrowing of the intestines, ulcers, swelling of the intestines, etc.

If this X-rays shows some signs of Crohn’s disease, your doctor would probably order some other imaging studies.

Crohns Diagnosis - CT Scans

CT scans are like computer upgraded X-rays. CT scans make better images of the abdomen and pelvis than traditional X-rays can. CT scans can help detect small cyst like abscesses when X-rays can’t.
Crohns Diagnosis – Sigmoidoscopy And Colonoscopy

Sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy let the gastroenterologist see the bottom part of digestive system. These tests allow the doctors to see what is going on at that moment. These tests can detect inflammation, small polyps and small ulcers, but not all. Biopsy (small tissue sample) is often taken and the results can let the doctor know how bad that inflammation is. Biopsy is very important for Crohns diagnosis.

Colonoscopy is usually performed to investigate rectal bleeding, obstruction or unexplained abdominal pain. Colonoscopy is probably the most important methods in Crohns diagnosis. During colonoscopy, a flexible tube is placed through the anus into the intestine. During this procedure, a doctor is able to see the inside of the colon on the TV monitor. The doctor would examine the intestine for signs of inflammation, ulcers, polyps and sometimes remove polyps.

Sigmoidoscopy is similar to colonoscopy but it only checks the lowest part of the large intestine.

Crohns Diagnosis – Video Capsule Endoscopy

This procedure seems very interesting. A patient swallows a capsule which has a small video camera. The capsule travels through the gut and send the pictures to a receiver that the patient would wear around the waist. Those pictures would go into a computer. This technique allows early detection of problems. Video capsule endoscopy can be particularly useful if a patient has symptoms of Chrons disease but barium X-ray results are inconclusive.

It’s better to avoid video capsule endoscopy procedure if there’s a narrowing of the small intestine which is one of the symptoms of Crohn disease. Also, it’s probably better to avoid this test if there’s an obstruction in the small intestine and/or patient has cardiac problems. Video capsule endoscopy is still being studied.

There are risks associated with all these tests. Possibly even more risk than we know. CT scans are now linked to cancer. Colonoscopy is also associated with many colonoscopy risks like risk of blood clots, coma, heart failure, pneumonia, severe dehydration, etc.

Crohns Diagnosis - Final Decisions

The exams are done, lab test are done and most of the times the imaging is done. The doctor will put two and two together. The final Crohns diagnosis is usually made after biopsy. But it’s not always 100 percent obvious. If Crohns diagnosis was given, the doctor will give you all of your options like Crohns medications and possibly physical therapy. And you start living with Crohns.

I can add to those conventional Crohns treatment options:

Living with Crohns

  • Get enough rest and do some light exercise.
  • Get enough vitamin D, check you levels first.
  • Consider experimenting with Crohns diet and natural supplements.
  • Drink plenty of herbal teas to cleanse the colon, like peppermint or chamomile teas.
  • Become proactive and treat your health like it’s your most precious gift. Get involved in your Crohns treatment decision making. Ask questions and research all that you can.

All the best to you.

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