Thorough understanding of the symptoms and findings associated with IBD will maximize the value of the history and physical examination. While abdominal pain, weight loss, rectal bleeding, and diarrhea are the symptoms most frequently associated with IBD, the pattern of symptoms differs between Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis. Patient awareness of symptoms may vary widely. A careful history can yield the diagnosis, but sometimes it provides only the barest hint that the patient might have IBD.
A comprehensive physical examination complements the history to provide a detailed picture of patient's condition. The physical exam may confirm suspicions of disease complications. It can demonstrate disease severity not hinted at in the history. It can reveal the clues to IBD in a patient whose history did not suggest IBD. Together the history and physical examination form the foundation on which all care is based.
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