What Does a Bowel Test Show?
If you are experiencing any uncomfortable symptoms related to your digestive health, for example, bloating, pain after eating, or chronic constipation, then your doctor may ask you to take a bowel test.
A bowel test is a test which you can take, which involves you collecting a sample of your stool. Your stool will then be checked to see if there is anything unusual, which indicate that something is going wrong with your digestive system.
In this article, we will outline the answer to the question, ‘what does a bowel test show?’
What is the bowel in the human body?
The bowel is an organ which plays an instrumental role in digesting food and getting rid of the waste products from the food.
Also known as the intestine, the bowel is a long, continuous tube, running from the stomach to the anus. Split into the small bowel and the large bowel, the organ processes all the food we eat and breaks down it down into nutrients for the body to use.
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.
The organ also plays a role in fighting germs and regulating the body’s water balance.
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 develop 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.
In the UK, bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer, with nearly 43,000 people diagnosed with the condition every year.
Hence, it is important to consult your doctor if you experience any bowel-related symptoms, because the earlier you are examined by a doctor, the faster you can receive a diagnosis and treatment for any underlying health issues.
What are the symptoms of bowel problems?
There are many tell-tale signs which indicate that there may be something wrong with your bowel or digestive system. 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 to 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 seek medical attention 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 does a bowel test show?
So, what does a bowel test show?
A bowel test is a medical test which you can take, to see if you have any bowel-related health problems.
The test requires you to collect a sample of your stool, which gets passed to scientists at a lab. Full instructions will be provided with the test kit.
The scientists will analyse the stool sample and check for the presence of any abnormalities, such as:
- blood (which may not be visible to the naked eye).
- yeast or bacteria such as E. coli.
- signs of cancer.
- an increased level of a protein called calprotectin, which allows doctors to measure the inflammation in your bowel- this can lead to a diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Can I test myself for bowel cancer?
Yes, 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.
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.
What does blood in the stool mean?
If you spot blood in your stool, this does not mean you definitely have cancer.
Blood can appear in the stool due to:
- piles (haemorrhoids).
- anal fissure (small tear in the skin of the anus).
- inflammation of the bowel or rectum.
- abnormal blood vessels in the gastrointestinal tract.
- rectal ulcers.
These conditions can be managed with treatment and advice as directed by your doctor.
What tests are done for bowel problems?
If you have consulted a doctor about your bowel-related symptoms, then you may be referred for tests such as:
- A physical examination of your abdomen or anal area (bottom).
- A blood test, to rule out the possibility of Coeliac Disease (a gluten allergy).
- Ultrasound of the abdomen, to assess your liver, pancreas, kidneys, spleen, gall bladder, or urinary bladder.
- Colonoscopy: 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.
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?
- What Are the Signs of Bowel Problems?
- How Do You Check Your Bowel Health?
- How Do You Know if You Have Damaged Your Bowels?
- How Does Strep A Get in Your Blood?
- Can I Enter the UK with an Antigen Test?
- What Is an In-Clinic Antigen Test?
- Do I Need an Antigen Test to Travel
- COVID Video Test for Travel: Telehealth Supervised Antigen Test for USA
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, ‘What does a bowel test show?’
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