Very often we hear that many people suffer from bloating after meals, constipation, abdominal pain and other symptoms of the digestive system that make their daily life unpleasant for a long time. This can usually be due to:
– Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) which is a non-inflammatory bowel condition that is usually caused by stress or by foods that are indigestible to the body.
– Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD is a general term for chronic conditions that cause prolonged inflammation in the digestive system. Examples of IBD include:
– ulcerative colitis (UC)
– Crohn’s disease
In this dilemma of the origin of the above symptoms ( whether they are caused by an inflammatory disease of the digestive system or not) the examination of calprotectin comes to answer.
What is Calprotectin?
Calprotectin is a protein produced by white blood cells in response to an inflammation. When there is inflammation in the digestive tract, white blood cells release calprotectin in an attempt to fight the disease or infection. Inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract can be a sign of IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease).
How is calprotectin tested and what are the advantages?
Calprotectin testing is done by simply taking a stool sample. The big advantage of the test is that the information it provides may eliminate the need for more invasive tests, such as a colonoscopy.
Also the calprotectin test helps distinguish between IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
High levels of calprotectin in stool may also indicate other conditions such as:
– bacterial infection
– parasitic infection
– colon cancer
Also, the calprotectin stool test can help the doctor make a diagnosis or be used to monitor the severity of IBD flare-ups after diagnosis.
Who should have a calprotectin stool test?
Symptoms of IBD vary depending on the location and severity of the inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Since ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease can come and go over time, symptoms can be chronic (long-term) or acute (short-term).
Symptoms that may signal the need for a calprotectin stool test are:
- blood in the stool
- stomach ache
- unexplained weight loss
- bleeding from the rectum
High levels of calprotectin in stool may signal ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, colon cancer, or infection.
Moderate or low levels mean there is little to no inflammation in the digestive tract. This may indicate that the symptoms are due to a non-inflammatory condition such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.