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Diagnosing Ulcerative Colitis

There are different kinds of UC that can be diagnosed and different ways to test for the triggers. Remember that Ulcerative Colitis in one person can be caused by something totally different in another, but the symptoms can be the same.

Stool Culture: Your doctor should take a stool sample and have a lab analyze it for bacterial infections, white blood cells, yeast overgrowth, and parasites. Since some labs may not catch the presence of parasites, I recommend parasite testing by Dr. Omar M. Amin at Dr Amin is a world reknown parasitologist located in the US and and in Europe.  My son’s stool was tested numerous times in labs locally and they never found the parasites. He suffered for three years until we found Dr. Amin.

Blood Test: Your doctor should run a full panel CBC, a complete blood test. This will be used to determine a white blood cell count and/or if anemia is present. A high white blood cell count is an indication of an infection and inflammation which is found in people with Ulcerative Colitis. Repeated bouts of bloody diarrhea may cause some people to become anemic.  Neither of these tests is specific in nature: an elevated white blood cell count does not tell physicians where in the body the inflammation is located and anemia could be from another cause (such as heavy menstrual bleeding). However, both tests provide clues for physicians to use when making a diagnosis. Learn how to read your blood test results.

Sigmoidoscopy: A sigmoidoscopy is a way for a doctor to examine the last one third of the large intestine, which includes the rectum and sigmoid colon. To clear out the colon, patients may be asked to use laxatives or an enema, or have only liquid foods on the day of the test. (In the case of severe diarrhea, the colon may already be empty enough for the physician to see clearly.) A flexible viewing tube with a lens and light source on the end, called a sigmoidoscope, is used. A biopsy may be taken during the procedure, which will be tested to help the physician determine the cause of any inflammation. This procedure may be done either in a hospital setting or in a doctor’s office and takes about 15-30 minutes. A sigmoidoscopy can be uncomfortable. A mild sedative is usually given before the test.

Colonoscopy is the way the doctor will look at your entire colon. A long tube with a light and a camera on the end of it will scope your colon and pictures will be taken so the doctor can examine them more closely. The procedure will be done in a hospital and you will be given a medication to make you very drowsy. If the doctor finds a suspicious area or lump a biopsy will be taken. Watch the video.

X-Ray Barium enema: A barium enema (also called a lower gastrointestinal series) is a special type of X-ray that uses barium sulfate and air to outline the lining of the rectum and colon. The barium is given in an enema which is then ‘held’ inside the colon while X-rays are taken. Intestinal abnormalities may appear as dark silhouettes or patterns along the intestinal lining on the X-ray. Air may be pumped into the colon to help sharpen the outline of the intestinal wall. A barium enema can be performed as an outpatient procedure, and usually takes about 45 minutes. The enema might be uncomfortable, but the X-rays are completely painless.

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