On A Mission of Contributing to Your Knowledge About Inflammatory Bowel Symptoms & Cures...
How is Inflammatory Bowel Disease Diagnosed?
If you think you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), talk to your doctor. She or he will use your health history, a physical exam, and different tests to figure out if you have IBD and, if so, which type.
Tests used to diagnose IBD include:
- Blood tests. A sample of blood is studied in a lab to find signs of inflammation and anemia.
- Stool sample. A sample of a bowel movement is tested for blood. It is also tested for signs of an infection that can trigger a flare-up of IBD.
- Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy. For both of these tests, a long, thin tube with a lighted camera inside the tip is inserted into the anus. The image appears on a television screen. A sigmoidoscopy allows the doctor to see the lining of the lower part of the large intestine. A colonoscopy allows the doctor to see the lining of the entire large intestine and often the last part of the small intestines. The doctor will then be able to see any inflammation, bleeding, or ulcers. During the exam, the doctor may do a biopsy. This involves taking a sample of tissue from the lining of the digestive tract to view with a microscope.
- X-rays with barium. In this procedure, a thick, chalky liquid called barium is used to coat the lining of the digestive tract. Then x-rays are taken. Areas coated with barium show up white on x-ray film. This allows the doctor to check for signs of IBD. The barium can be drunk or given as an enema.
- Computerized axial tomography (CT or CAT scan). A CT scan takes x-rays from several different angles around the body. The doctor studies the images with a computer to look for signs of ulcerative colitis.
- Capsule endoscopy. Regular endoscopies and colonoscopies cannot get to your small intestine. But doctors can examine the small intestine through a capsule endoscopy. A capsule endoscopy is a small, pill shaped camera. You swallow the pill, which then travels through your digestive system. It records video of the small intestine and sends the video to a monitor where your doctor can watch it. Capsule endoscopies can’t be used if there is any narrowing of the digestive system.
It often takes awhile for doctors to diagnose IBD. This is because IBD symptoms vary and are similar to those of many other problems.
Can I do Anything to Avoid getting Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
Since doctors don't know what causes inflammatory bowel disease, there is no proven way to prevent it.
Treatments for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Treatments for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may include:
- Changes in the foods you eat — some people find following specific diets helps ease their symptoms.
- Nutritional supplements
- Reducing stress and getting enough rest
If you have IBD, your treatment will depend on:
- Your symptoms and how severe they are
- Which part of your digestive tract is affected
- If you have health problems outside the digestive tract
Most people with IBD take medicine to control their symptoms. If medicines cannot control their disease, some people will need surgery.
Medicines used to treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Medicines for treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) reduce the inflammation, relieve symptoms, and prevent flare-ups. Every patient is different. What may work for one person with IBD may not work for another. You may need to try several different medicines before you find one or more that work best for you. You should keep track of how well the drugs are working, any side effects, and report all details to your doctor. The following kinds of medicines are used to treat IBD:
Most people with mild to moderate cases of IBD are first treated with medicines called aminosalicylates. They are given as pills, through an enema, or in a suppository, depending on which part of the digestive tract is inflamed. Possible side effects include nausea, vomiting, heartburn, diarrhea, and headache.
Corticosteroids are powerful and fast-acting drugs that suppress the immune system. They are given for short periods of time to treat IBD flare-ups. They are not given long-term because of possible serious side-effects. Side effects may include increased risk of infection, bone loss, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Corticosteroids are usually taken as pills. But for people who do not respond to the pills, they may be given through an enema, in a suppository, or injected into the blood.
Like corticosteroids, immunomodulators suppress the immune system. They can take a long time to work (as much as 6 months for full effect). But, unlike corticosteroids, they can be taken long-term to prevent relapse. They are often given along with corticosteroids. As the disease is brought under control and the immunomodulator starts working, the corticosteroid dose is slowly reduced. Like corticosteroids, these medicines may raise the risk of infection. Other side effects are uncommon but may include nausea, vomiting, and headache. Immunomodulators are usually taken as pills, but some are injected.
Biologic therapies are proteins that block substances in the body that help cause inflammation. Biologics used to treat IBD block a substance called tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha). Anti-TNF-alpha therapies have been used for years to treat Crohn’s disease and are now being used for ulcerative colitis. Blocking TNF-alpha can reduce inflammation, which can improve the symptoms of IBD. Anti-TNF-alpha therapies like infliximab, adalimumab, and certolizumab are used to treat people with moderate to severe IBD when other therapies don't work. Infliximab has also been used to treat people with Crohn's disease who have open, draining fistulas.
Infliximab is given intravenously, which means it goes into the vein by a doctor or nurse. But adalimumab and certolizumab can be taken at home by injecting under the skin.
These therapies may lower your body’s ability to fight diseases. This can raise your chances of having a serious, or even life-threatening infection. Other side effects may include stomach pain, rash, and nausea.
Antibiotics are used to treat people with Crohn's disease but are usually not given to people with ulcerative colitis. Antibiotics can reduce bacterial growth in the small intestine caused by stricture, fistulas, or surgery. Experts think that antibiotics may also help by suppressing the immune system.
Antibiotics are usually taken as pills. Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Long-term use of one type of antibiotic can cause tingling of the hands and feet. If you develop this side effect, tell your doctor right away. The medicine should be stopped and not restarted.
Drugs that relieve diarrhea and pain are sometimes used to treat IBD symptoms. But it is important to talk with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter drugs. Some can make your symptoms worse.
Patients who are dehydrated because of diarrhea may be treated with fluids and minerals. People with Crohn's disease are sometimes given nutritional supplements.