021 551 8678

IBD Introduction


There are many different diseases and disorders that can affect the gastrointestinal system, making it difficult to diagnose any one condition.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is one such condition that can be characterized by chronic inflammation of the GI tract, resulting in abdominal pain, diarrhea, and weight loss.

The two most common types of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

IBD can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms can be similar to other GI conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

A diagnosis of IBD is typically made by a combination of medical history, physical examination, lab testing, and imaging studies.

Treatment for IBD typically includes medications to reduce inflammation, as well as diet and lifestyle changes.

Let’s get into IBD in more detail, discussing the different types of IBD and diagnostic and treatments thereof.


What Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Irritable Bowel Disease, or IBD, is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. The two most common types of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

IBD can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to other GI disorders.

IBD can cause a wide range of symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and fatigue.

There is no cure for IBD, but there are treatments available to help manage the symptoms.

Crohn’s Disease Explained

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. It is a debilitating and often painful disease that can lead to a number of serious complications.

Crohn’s disease is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

There is no cure for Crohn’s disease, but there are a number of treatments that can help to manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life for those affected by the disease.

Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Fever

Ulcerative Colitis Explained


When you hear the term “ulcerative colitis,” you may not know what it is. Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the large intestine, or colon.

The main symptom of ulcerative colitis is abdominal pain and cramping, as well as diarrhea. Other symptoms may include weight loss, fatigue, and rectal bleeding.

Ulcerative colitis is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

There is no known cure for ulcerative colitis, but there are treatments available to help manage the symptoms and keep the disease in remission.

Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramping
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Fever

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor so that you can get a proper diagnosis and treatment. 



The Symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

There are a few key things to look for when trying to identify IBD.

Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease can vary depending on the type of disease, but may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Bloody stool

Diagnosis is typically made through a combination of medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests such as bloodwork, stool samples, and imaging.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor to determine the cause.


The Causes of Irritable Bowel Disease


There are many different potential causes of irritable bowel disease, and unfortunately, the exact cause is still unknown.

However, there are a few different theories as to what may contribute to the development of this disorder.

One theory suggests that a bacterial imbalance in the gut may play a role. Another possibility is that a viral infection could trigger the disorder.

Additionally, it has been suggested that certain food sensitivities may contribute to the development of irritable bowel disease. Stress and anxiety have also been shown to worsen symptoms of irritable bowel disease.

Therefore, it is important to manage stress in order to help keep symptoms under control.


The Tests Used to Diagnose Inflammatory Bowel Disease

There are a few different tests that may be used to help diagnose inflammatory bowel disease and includes:

  • Medical history
  • Physical examination
  • Blood tests
  • Stool tests
  • Imaging tests
  • X-rays
  • CT scans
  • Endoscopy

Blood Tests
There are a few different ways that doctors can test for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). A blood test is one way that can be done in order to help diagnose IBD. There are certain proteins in the blood that are an indication of inflammation. One of these proteins is called C-reactive protein (CRP). If the CRP levels in the blood are high, it is a sign that there is inflammation present in the body.

Stool Samples
One way to help diagnose IBD is through a stool sample. Your doctor will likely ask you to provide a stool sample so that they can test it for the presence of blood or inflammation. This is an important test because it can help rule out other conditions, such as infections, that may be causing your symptoms.

An X-ray can reveal changes in the intestine that are characteristic of IBD. In IBD, the lining of the intestine is inflamed. This can cause the intestine to narrow, which may lead to blockages. An X-ray can show if the intestine is narrowed or if there are any blockages. An X-ray can also show if there are any other abnormal changes in the intestine, such as ulcers.

CT Scans
A CT scan is a type of imaging test that uses X-rays and computer technology to create detailed pictures of the inside of your body.

MRI can create detailed images of the gastrointestinal tract and show areas of inflammation. This information can help doctors determine the best course of treatment for each individual patient.

If you think you may have Inflammatory Bowel Disease, it is important to see a doctor and get a diagnosis.



The Treatments for Inflammatory Bowel Disease


There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The goal of treating IBD is to reduce inflammation.

The best treatment plan for each individual will be determined by the severity of the disease, the type of IBD diagnosed, and other factors unique to the patient.

That said, there are a few common treatments that are often used to manage IBD.
These include:

  • Medications: Anti-inflammatory drugs, immune suppressants, and biologic therapies are all commonly used to treat IBD.
  • Diet: What you eat can have a big impact on your symptoms. Your doctor may recommend a special diet, such as the low-FODMAP diet, to help
  • Lifestyle Changes: Stress can aggravate IBD symptoms and cause flare-ups therefor stress should be managed. Light to moderate exercise is believed to be good for people with IBD.

Treatment for IBD typically involves the use of medications, such as anti-inflammatories, immune-modulators, and antibiotics.

In some cases, surgery may also be necessary.




In summary, inflammatory bowel disease can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms can mimic those of other gastrointestinal disorders.

However, there are some key differences that can help your doctor make a definitive diagnosis.

Be sure to keep track of your symptoms and share them with your doctor so that they can help you get the treatment you need to manage your condition.

For any additional information regarding IBD, it’s best to find a trusted and experienced Gastroenterologist who can answer your questions clearly, recommend appropriate solutions, and perform tests with precision and expertise.

Dr. Deetlefs has earned the reputation of a trusted health expert providing consultative, diagnostic, and therapeutic endoscopic and related services to patients in Cape Town and beyond. 

Dr. Deetlefs can be contacted to confirm the estimated breakdown should you be interested in having the procedure done.


The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.

GIDoc Cape Town

Patient-focused GI treatments and procedures in Cape Town.

Monday-Friday 8AM-4PM.

Connect with Us

© Dr. Eduan Deetlefs, Registered Gastroenterologist, GI Doc Cape Town

Our website information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained physician can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.