Doctors use stool tests to get information about what may be happening in your child’s stomach, intestines or other parts of the gastrointestinal tract.
By examining the contents of stool, your child’s doctor can diagnose and check for a variety of conditions, including:
- Allergies and inflammation
- Infection-causing bacteria, viruses and parasites
- Nutrient, fat and sugar absorption
- Intestinal bleeding
In most cases, you will be asked to collect the stool sample at home and provide it to your child’s doctor for testing. Test results are available within a few hours to a few days depending on the specific study.
Doctors at Riley at IU Health use five different stool tests to check and monitor your child’s health:
- Hemoccult. A hemoccult stool test can detect unseen or hidden blood in the stool. A doctor may order this test to check for the presence of blood, which could be caused by allergies, peptic ulcers, inflammation, bacterial infections, parasites, polyps or viruses.
- Calprotectin. A calprotectin stool test is used to help determine the cause of intestinal inflammation. Calprotectin is a protein present with inflammation. It can indicate a bacterial infection, the start of inflammatory bowel disease or a flare-up of existing Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
- Culture. A stool culture test confirms the presence of different infection-causing bacteria in the intestines. A physician may order this test if your child has diarrhea, bloody stool for several days, if your child traveled to certain countries outside the United States or to check for a foodborne illness. A stool culture can check for Salmonella, Shigella, Yersinia, Campylobacter and a specific form of Escherichia coli (E. coli).
- Clostridium difficile (C. diff). A Clostridium difficile (C. diff) stool test checks the colon for the presence of a specific strain of Clostridium bacteria. C. diff is often found in the stool of infants and children and is usually harmless. However, certain strains can produce toxins that cause diarrhea. This may happen as the result of intestinal disorders, antibiotic treatment or chemotherapy.
- Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) stool antigen. A H. pylori stool antigen test looks for the presence of proteins (antigens) in the stool that fight infection. H. pylori are bacteria that cause peptic ulcers in the esophagus, stomach and small intestine. Your child's doctor may order this test if your child has symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating, belching, indigestion, nausea or vomiting. The H. pylori antigen test may also be used to find out if antibiotic treatment removed the infection.
What to Expect
What to Expect
Collecting a stool sample is painless. This can be done at home or in the doctor's office, but it needs to be done carefully and properly to avoid contamination of the sample. Different stool studies have different requirements for storage. You will receive detailed instructions and appropriate containers for the study your child requires.