Gut health has been a hot topic for a while now. And we see that with the number of probiotic products we can find on shelves.
As we use the bathroom, we notice if what we left behind floats, sinks, smells really bad and so on. Our stool can actually tell us a lot about our health. And there are tests called stool analysis or stool diagnostic tests that take a more clinical look at your stool.
Now you don’t just get a fecal matter test just cause you feel like it. This test will look at your poop for bacteria, a virus, or other germs that might be making you sick. Symptoms that could prompt your doctor to run a fecal matter test could be because there’s blood in your stool, you have severe and prolonged diarrhea, chronic fatigue, or unexplained weight loss.
Your doctor will then determine what type of test to be ordered. And as this is a stool test, you’ll need to give a sample of your stool for analysis. Your doctor will hand you a special container with a lid to take home. This will likely have your name and birthdate written on the label. Your doctor will then go over, how to collect the sample and any special instructions.
When obtaining your sample, you’ll need to make sure your stool does not come into contact with the inside of the toilet bowl. As the inside of the bowl may have germs that aren’t yours.
You’ll need to inform your doctor about any medicines you’re taking since these can affect your test results. Your doctor should also be advised if you’re taking any herbs, supplements, vitamins, over-the-counter drugs, or illegal substances.
Now if you recently traveled and are experiencing diarrhea, cramping or gas. It could mean you’ve caught a parasite. In which case stools collected on separate days are needed to determine if a parasite is present and which type. Your stool will be screened for parasite eggs.
If you struggle with severe abdominal pain, cramping, chronic fatigue, and rectal bleeding, you may have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Stool test will be done to look for signs of inflammation. Particularly the presence of calprotectin and lactoferrin.
If you find your stool especially pungent and notice fat in your stool (steatorrhea) it could be your body isn’t digesting and absorbing fats efficiently and could signal pancreatic or intestinal disorders.
If you find blood in your stool, you don’t need to be overly worried, as it could be hemorrhoids, which are swollen veins in your anus or lower rectum. Blood in your stool could also mean you have a stomach ulcer, which is commonly caused by a bacterial infection. Blood in your stool is also a red-flag for colon cancer. But the at times you won’t be able to see the blood making it difficult to determine without a proper test.
For early detection men and women above 50 should get screened for colon cancer. Should you have a family history of colon cancer, then you should begin screenings ten years earlier than the age your relative was diagnosed.
Once your sample gets to the lab, your results should get back to you within a day or 2.