How to Test for Occult Blood in Stool?

How to Test for Occult Blood in Stool?

Welcome to healthcare nt sickcare's informative guide on testing for occult blood in stool. Occult blood, which is not visible to the naked eye, can indicate underlying health issues, including gastrointestinal bleeding and colorectal cancer.

Blood in the stool, also known as hematochezia, can be a cause for concern. However, sometimes, the bleeding may be occult, meaning it's not visible to the naked eye. This is where occult blood testing comes in.

In this article, we'll explore the significance of testing for occult blood in stool, the methods used, and how healthcare nt sickcare can assist you in prioritizing your digestive health.

What is Occult Blood?

Occult blood refers to the presence of blood in stool that is not visible to the naked eye. This type of bleeding can result from various conditions, such as colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), ulcers, polyps, or even hemorrhoids. While visible blood in stool is a clear indicator of a potential problem, occult bleeding may go unnoticed without proper testing, making it essential to undergo regular screening.

Detecting the presence of occult (hidden) blood in stool is a crucial diagnostic tool for identifying various health conditions, particularly those related to the gastrointestinal tract. Early detection of occult blood can lead to timely intervention and treatment, potentially saving lives.

Causes of Occult Blood in Stool

Occult blood in stool can stem from various underlying conditions, including:

  1. Colorectal Cancer: One of the most significant reasons for occult blood testing is to detect early signs of colorectal cancer, which is the third most common cancer worldwide.
  2. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD): Conditions like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis can cause inflammation and bleeding in the digestive tract, leading to occult blood in stool.
  3. Peptic Ulcers: Ulcers in the stomach or small intestine can erode the lining, causing microscopic bleeding that may not be visible.
  4. Polyps: Growths on the inner lining of the colon or rectum can bleed intermittently, resulting in occult blood.
  5. Hemorrhoids: While not typically a serious condition, hemorrhoids can cause rectal bleeding, which may be detected through occult blood testing.

When to Consider Occult Blood Testing?

While occult blood testing is often included in routine health screenings for adults above 50, you may need it sooner if you experience:

  • Change in bowel habits: Persistent diarrhea, constipation, or a change in stool consistency
  • Rectal bleeding: Even a small amount of blood on toilet paper or in your stool is concerning
  • Abdominal pain: Persistent or severe pain in your abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss: Losing weight without trying can be a symptom of various conditions

It's important to note that these symptoms can be caused by various factors, and occult blood testing is just one diagnostic tool. Always consult your doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms.

Why Test for Occult Blood?

Regular occult blood testing is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Early Detection of Colorectal Cancer: Colorectal cancer is often asymptomatic in its early stages, and occult blood testing can detect bleeding before visible symptoms appear, allowing for earlier intervention and improved survival rates.
  2. Monitoring Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: For individuals with IBD, occult blood testing can help monitor disease activity and the effectiveness of treatment.
  3. Identifying Gastrointestinal Bleeding: Occult blood in stool can be an indicator of bleeding somewhere in the digestive tract, prompting further investigation and appropriate treatment.
  4. Screening for Polyps and Other Conditions: Occult blood testing can lead to the detection of polyps or other conditions that may require medical attention.

How to Test for Occult Blood in Stool?

There are two primary methods for detecting occult blood in stool:

Guaiac-based Fecal Occult Blood Test (gFOBT)

The gFOBT is a commonly used screening test that detects the presence of heme, a component of hemoglobin found in red blood cells. This test involves applying a small stool sample to a guaiac-impregnated card or paper and then adding a developing solution. If blood is present, the solution will turn blue, indicating a positive result.

Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)

The FIT is a newer and more specific test that detects the presence of human hemoglobin protein in stool. It uses antibodies to detect the globin component of human hemoglobin, making it more accurate and less prone to false-positive results from dietary sources or certain medications. This test is often preferred for colorectal cancer screening programs.

How to Prepare for Occult Blood Testing?

Your doctor will provide specific instructions based on the chosen test. However, some general preparation tips include:

  • Avoiding certain foods, medications, and supplements: These can affect the test results. Your doctor will provide a detailed list of what to avoid before the test.
  • Collecting stool samples: Depending on the test, you may need to collect samples on multiple days using a special kit provided by your lab manager.

The Role of healthcare nt sickcare

Healthcare nt sickcare, an ISO 9001:2015 certified online medical laboratory, plays a crucial role in providing accessible and affordable occult blood testing services to individuals across India. With external associations with NABL-certified laboratories and an in-house laboratory, healthcare nt sickcare ensures accurate and reliable test results.

Through their user-friendly e-commerce website, patients can conveniently book their lab tests and health packages online, including occult blood testing. For orders above ₹999, healthcare nt sickcare offers the added convenience of specimen collection from the patient's home.

Within 6 to 48 hours of sample collection, patients receive their lab test reports via automated emails, eliminating the need for follow-ups. healthcare nt sickcare's dedicated customer support team can be reached through their website or by calling +91 9766060629 for any inquiries or assistance.

How often should I undergo occult blood testing?

The recommended frequency of occult blood testing depends on various factors, such as age, personal and family medical history, and risk factors. Typically, individuals over the age of 45 with an average risk of colorectal cancer are advised to undergo regular screening, which may include occult blood testing. However, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate screening schedule for your specific circumstances.

Can occult blood in stool be caused by dietary factors?

Yes, certain dietary factors, such as consuming red meat, certain vegetables, or medications like aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can potentially cause occult bleeding in the digestive tract. However, the Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) is less prone to false-positive results from dietary sources compared to the Guaiac-based Fecal Occult Blood Test (gFOBT).

What should I do if my occult blood test is positive?

If your occult blood test is positive, it is essential to follow up with your healthcare provider for further evaluation. They may recommend additional tests, such as a colonoscopy, to determine the underlying cause of the bleeding and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Can occult blood testing be performed during pregnancy?

Yes, occult blood testing can be performed during pregnancy if recommended by your healthcare provider. It is generally considered safe and may be advised to monitor for potential complications or conditions that could affect the pregnancy.

How accurate are occult blood tests?

The accuracy of occult blood tests can vary depending on the type of test used and other factors. Both gFOBT and FIT have limitations and can sometimes produce false positive or negative results. It's crucial to discuss the results with your doctor in the context of your overall health and symptoms.

Is occult blood testing painful?

No, occult blood testing is not painful. It involves collecting stool samples at home and submitting them to a laboratory for analysis. The process is simple and non-invasive.

Can I do occult blood testing at home?

Home test kits for occult blood are available, but it's important to consult your doctor before using one. They can advise you on the appropriate test and interpret the results in conjunction with your medical history.

Partnering with healthcare nt sickcare for Reliable Testing

At healthcare nt sickcare, we understand the importance of early detection and diagnosis for various health conditions. We offer affordable and reliable occult blood testing services to help you gain valuable insights into your health. Our convenient online platform allows you to book appointments and access test results easily. Additionally, we offer home specimen collection services for your comfort and convenience.


Occult blood testing plays a vital role in the early detection and management of various gastrointestinal conditions, including colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel diseases, ulcers, and polyps. By providing accessible and affordable occult blood testing services through their e-commerce platform and partnerships with NABL-certified laboratories, healthcare nt sickcare empowers individuals across India to prioritize their health and take proactive steps towards early detection and timely intervention.

Remember, regular occult blood testing, combined with a healthy lifestyle and adherence to recommended screening guidelines, can significantly improve your chances of identifying and addressing potential health issues before they become more severe. Stay vigilant, and don't hesitate to consult with healthcare professionals for personalized advice and guidance.

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