One of the best ways for you and your doctors to gain a better understanding of your symptoms/illness is to keep a stool diary, which involves making notes regarding different aspects of your toilet habits. Your doctor will ask you to keep a record of stool frequency, volume, whether you strained during the bowel movement or felt like you had not fully emptied your bowel at the end, and to describe the stool itself using the Bristol stool scale, shown below.
How your stool compares to these different types can be a good indicator of your general bowel health.
It is also important to observe the colour of your stool.
The records kept in your stool diary can help your doctor understand your symptoms, and by identifying any patterns can both diagnose the problem, and identify potential triggers for your disease. In some cases it may be necessary to also provide a sample of your stool for testing in a specialised laboratory. This can help to identify other potential conditions such as inflammation, or infection with bacteria or parasites.
Based on your symptoms, your doctor may want to send you for further testing, most commonly to have a direct look into your digestive system using techniques such as endoscopy, colonoscopy and/or sigmoidoscopy.
The good news is that it is now increasingly possible for some people to avoid these tests by having new stool tests.
Click on the links to find out more, or to discuss with one of our expert private consultants, please phone 020 7183 7965 for an appointment.