How Do You Check Your Bowel Health?
Bowel problems are common among the UK population, but research shows that over a third of Brits would be too embarrassed to visit the doctor if they experienced any symptoms of bowel cancer- such as blood in faeces, abdominal pain, bloating, and a change in bowel habits. Yet, almost 43,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year, making it the second biggest cancer killer in the UK.
Hence, it is important to maintain good bowel health, as this will make a positive difference in the quality of your life.
But exactly how do you check your bowel health?
We will outline our best tips in this article, so keep reading to learn more.
What is the bowel in the human body?
First and foremost, our digestive system breaks down the food that we ingest and subsequently gets rid of the waste.
The bowel (also known as the intestine) is a long, continuous tube, running from the stomach to the anus. Split into the small bowel and the large bowel, the organ plays a key role in digestion, as well as in fighting germs and regulating the body’s water balance.
So, the bowel helps the body absorb the minerals, nutrients and fluids from the foods we consume. Then, the leftover waste from the food is stored in the bowel, until they are emptied from the body in the form of a bowel movement.
What is the difference between the small bowel and the large bowel?
The small bowel is also called the small intestine. Measuring around 6 to 8 metres long, and 2cm wide, the small bowel absorbs nutrients and much of the liquid from foods, before the food is passed into the large bowel.
Meanwhile, the large bowel is also known as the large intestine or colon. Measuring around 2 metres long and 6-7 cm wide, the large bowel stores, processes and gets rid of waste, with the help of thousands of bacteria.
What are the signs that something is wrong with my bowel?
Here are some symptoms to look out for:
- Blood in your stool or on toilet tissue
- Severe pain or discomfort after eating
- Severe stomach/abdominal pain or cramping, which does not go away
- Unexplained changes in bowel movements or urine
- Painful bowel movements
- Urgent need to have a bowel movement
- Diarrhoea or constipation, or both
- Nausea and vomiting
- Vomiting blood
- Excessive wind
- Bloating, or discomfort and pain when swallowing
- Intolerance of certain foods
- Reduced appetite
- Swollen abdomen, or pain/tenderness when you touch your abdomen
- Severe heartburn
- Abnormal skin tags on the buttocks
- Burning or itching of the anus
- Mouth sores
- High temperature
- Fever or chills
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Swollen or painful joints
- Difficulty sleeping
- Unintentional weight loss
- Anxiety and depression
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to consult a doctor as quickly as possible. The sooner you visit a doctor, the quicker you can get an accurate diagnosis and receive the help, care, support and treatment you need.
If you suspect your bowel is obstructed (blocked), this is a medical emergency, so you should go to your local Accident & Emergency (A&E) department straight away.
What is bowel cancer?
Bowel cancer (also known as colon or rectal cancer) refers to cancer that begins in the large bowel.
What happens is that a clump of cells called polyps develops in the inner lining of the colon (large bowel). If you have polyps growing inside you, this does not mean you will develop cancer. Polyps can be non-cancerous and they can go away on their own.
A few polyps may continue to grow, which eventually develop into bowel cancer, over a period of several years.
If bowel cancer is detected early, then the right treatment can cure bowel cancer and stop it from coming back.
How do you get diagnosed with bowel cancer?
Once you have spoken to your GP about any painful or distressing symptoms, then the doctor will:
- order a blood test to see if you are deficient in iron
- carry out a physical examination of your bottom and abdomen, to identify any lumps or abnormalities
- refer you for hospital tests, if required
If you are referred for tests at the hospital, you may undergo a colonoscopy or CT colonography.
A colonoscopy is a procedure where a tube with a small camera is inserted into your back passage so that the doctor can see pictures of the inside of your bowel on a TV monitor.
How do you check your bowel health?
So, how do you check your bowel health?
Take an at-home test for bowel cancer.
Well, you can take an at-home bowel cancer test, which detects whether there is blood in your stool. This aids in the diagnosis of bowel cancer.
Remember, the earlier you act if you experience any unusual symptoms, the better it will be for your health.
Here at Official Rapid Tests, we offer an Instant Bowel Cancer Home Test.
This self-test is a rapid lateral flow test for the detection of human occult blood in faeces.
You can take the test in minutes, and then send it to our accredited lab for analysing, using the instructions provided.
You will receive your test results and any recommendations very quickly, within just a few days, via email.
Please note: If your results are outside the normal range and are of concern, it is a priority that you contact your local GP or emergency service by calling 111 or 999.
If you feel unwell or are concerned about your health, it is your responsibility to get in touch with the emergency services as soon as possible, do not wait for results to be issued.
Click here to shop our Instant Bowel Cancer Home Test.
Present a stool sample to your GP
If you have been experiencing bowel-related issues, then your GP may ask you for a stool sample.
Your sample will be analysed at a lab, to check for blood, bacterial cultures, worms and any other abnormalities.
Once you are informed of the results, your doctor will explain if there are any issues and offer the appropriate advice and treatment.
Read more articles like this
To learn more about bowel health, health tests, Covid testing and travel testing, click here to read our blog articles on:
- What Age Does Bowel Cancer Start?
- How Do You Know if You Have Damaged Your Bowels?
- Can I Enter the UK with an Antigen Test?
- What Is an In-Clinic Antigen Test?
- Do I Need an Antigen Test to Travel
About Official Rapid Tests
At Official Rapid Tests, we are a UK Government listed testing provider. We are a team of medical industry experts, with a combined experience of 40 years in the testing, diagnostic and medical services sector.
Click here to purchase our Instant Bowel Cancer Home Test, which aids in the diagnosis of bowel cancer.
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We hope we have answered the question, ‘how do you check your bowel health?’
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