Common Blood Tests Used in Managing IBD

Blood tests are an important part of the management of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In most cases, blood tests can't diagnose a disease or disorder (with the exception being anemia), but they can provide information about what's going on in the body. Most people don't enjoy having their blood taken, but a blood test is normally fairly quick and only mildly uncomfortable.

The benefits to blood tests are significant, and they can guide a physician in the right direction, possibly to order other tests that will be the most beneficial in achieving a diagnosis or treating a condition. Any number of blood tests might be ordered to monitor Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, and below are just a few.

White Blood Cell (WBC) Count

White blood cells
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White blood cells are also known as leukocytes. These cells might start to be found in greater numbers when there is an infection present somewhere in the body. A higher than typical white cell count can alert a physician to an infection or inflammation, even if one can't be seen or detected with other tests.

The test isn't specific enough to indicate where the problem might exist, but it does let a physician know that more investigation might be needed.

Hemoglobin Level Test

Hemoglobin is an important protein that is found inside red blood cells. The cells of the body need to be supplied with oxygen and have carbon dioxide taken away, and hemoglobin is the protein that takes care of this process.

A hemoglobin level that is too low is anemia, which could be the result of bleeding or of a vitamin or mineral deficiency. A level that is too high can be a sign of a heart or lung condition.

Hematocrit Level Test

A hematocrit level test is unlike other blood tests in that it doesn't count or measure a specific protein or cell within the blood. Rather, it is a calculation of the volume of the red blood cells within the blood.

Low hematocrit levels are used to diagnose anemia. A high hematocrit level could be a sign of a condition that is affecting the heart or the lungs.

Red Blood Cell (RBC) Count

A red blood cell count is just what it sounds like: a count of the number of red blood cells present in the blood. This test is generally considered less helpful, but if there are too many or too few red blood cells present, it can help a physician narrow down what might be causing certain symptoms.

A low or high red blood cell count is not a condition in and of itself but is rather a sign that another problem is causing the count to be out of proportion.

Blood Tests For IBD

There are many tests that are used to monitor the signs, symptoms, and complications of IBD. Blood tests can't usually diagnose a condition (aside from anemia), but they can help a doctor understand what is happening internally.

If some of the blood tests have levels that are out of the normal range, it could mean that more tests are needed to determine what is going on. Your doctor is the best reference to understand the results of your blood tests.

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