What are the symptoms of Crohn’s disease?

The most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease are abdominal pain, which often occurs in the lower right side of the abdomen, and diarrhea. Symptoms such as rectal bleeding, weight loss and fever can also occur. Bleeding may be severe and persistent, causing anemia. Children suffering from Crohn’s disease may experience delayed growth or underdevelopment.

How is Crohn’s disease diagnosed?

Diagnosing Crohn’s disease requires a very careful clinical examination and a series of diagnostic tests.

First, blood tests are done to check for anemia, which may show intestinal bleeding. They may also reveal a high white blood cell count, which is indicative of inflammation in the body.

In addition, by examining a stool sample, the doctor can determine if there is bleeding or infection in the intestines. Also, the doctor may do a series of tests in the lower gastrointestinal tract to look at the small intestine. To perform this test, the patient swallows barium, a thick solution that coats the lining of the small intestine, before the x-rays are taken. The barium looks white on the film of the X-rays, revealing inflammation or other bowel disorders.

Further, the doctor may also perform a colonoscopy in order to examine the inner lining of the colon and rectum. More specifically, the doctor inserts an endoscope (or esophagoscope) or a colonoscope, a thin, flexible, lighted tube with a camera on the end, connected to a computer and a TV monitor, into the anus to view the inside of the colon.

The Endoscope can detect possible inflammations or bleeding. During the examination, you may undergo a biopsy, which involves the removal of a small tissue sample from the lining of the bowel (Mucosa) to examine it under a microscope.

If these tests show Crohn’s disease, further x-rays of the upper and lower digestive tract may be needed to determine the extent of damage from the disease.