When a person first encounters symptoms that have the hallmark of colitis it is necessary to have a correct diagnosis of the condition in order that the proper course of care and medications are being used. This will involve the patient undergoing various tests to determine that they are suffering from colitis symptoms and the most appropriate course of action to follow.
The first action required is a blood test to check for levels of protein in the blood. In the case of low levels of albumin being detected suggests evidence of severe ulceration as will a raised level of 'C' reactive protein. An imbalance of the body's salt and water levels can also be detected and this can be attributed to acute levels of diarrhea.
It is now always the case with those that have had no previous symptoms to be sent to hospital to undergo various tests to determine the diagnosis and the extent of the inflammation. This can take the form of several different types of exploratory procedures. The first is a simple X-ray which can highlight the affected inflamed area of the bowel and how active the ulceration currently is. If the determination is unclear from the simple X-ray, a barium X-ray may be used for clarification and this is administered by mouth where the small bowel requires to be examined and by an enema for the examination of the large bowel.
When the large bowel requires to be examined, either a sigmoidoscopy or a colonoscopy will be undertaken. A rigid sigmoidoscopy, which takes the form of a metal tube with a light on the end, is inserted into the rectum and moved up as far as the sigmoid colon. An alternative to this is the flexible sigmoidoscopy which is used where more of the large bowel requires to be examined. A colonoscopy, using a long and flexible fibre optic telescope is longer than a sigmoidoscope and is used to see further still into the colon to determine the extent of inflammation located deeper into the bowel.
Whilst performing such procedures within the bowel, the doctor may take a sample of the bowel tissue, which is called a biopsy, which shall be examined and a determination then made as to the condition of the bowel and severity of the attack.
It is very important for the sufferer to undergo these procedures, especially when first experiencing colitis like symptoms in order to confirm or otherwise the diagnosis of the disease. The information gathered can then be used to determine the best course of treatment to bring the colitis symptoms under control. It really is a case of having to experience a little discomfort in the hospital being worth it in order to provide an accurate diagnosis. The sufferer will then have the best opportunity to tackle, through the most appropriate care and medication, what can be very distressing and painful symptoms when colitis has been diagnosed.