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Fecal occult blood test

Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) aids in detecting any occult blood in the stool. This test is part of any colorectal cancer screening process. New flushable reagent pads allow you to conduct this test either at home or a laboratory. About 2 -3 stool samples are taken on different days to check for fecal occult blood. While FOBT can detect the presence of blood in the stool, it can't pinpoint the cause. Fecal occult blood can occur due to colon cancer, gastritis, hemorrhoids, fissures, inflammatory bowel disease, peptic ulcer or esophagitis. Fecal occult blood test must not be conducted if the person is suffering from colitis, diarrhea, constipation or diverticulitis. Women who are menstruating or persons with active anal bleeding due to fissures or hemorrhoids must not take the FOBT. Avoid eating beets, grapefruit, poultry, red meat cooked rare, turnips or horseradish about 48 hours prior to FOBT. If any blood is detected during fecal occult blood test, further diagnostic tests are conducted to check the causes.

Anal Fissure

Anal fissure refers to a small cut or tear in the skin lining the anal canal. Anal fissure can occur to people of any age group, including infants. Hard and dry fecus tends to tear the anal lining leading to a fissure. Anal fissure can also be caused due to inflammation in the rectal area. In some cases, anal fissure can be caused due to anal cancer, Crohn's disease, viral infections or HIV. Symptoms of anal fissure include blood in the stools and extreme pain during bowel movement. A fissure in the anal canal can be observed during a physical examination. Endoscopic examination helps in ruling out any serious conditions of the anus and rectum.


Most anal fissures heal without surgery. A patient suffering from anal fissures must avoid constipation by following a high-fiber diet and drinking plenty of fluids. Stool softeners are often resorted to. Medicated creams are prescribed to aid healing of anal fissures. Surgery is rarely resorted to. Surgery may reduce pain and promote speedy healing.


Gastrointestinal Bleeding

Gastrointestinal Bleeding or GI bleeding refers to bleeding from any part of the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth and esophagus to the stomach or intestines. Gastrointestinal bleeding can occur due to infection or medications that damage tissues leading to bleeding. GI bleeding needs to be monitored carefully and attended to. Upper Gastrointestinal bleeding can result from gastritis or peptic ulcers. Lower GI bleeding is often due to diverticulitis, polyps, anal fissures or hemorrhoids.


Acute GI bleeding manifests in bloody bowel movements and vomiting of blood. There is fatigue and weakness. The patient suffering GI bleeding may suffer pain in the abdomen. A person suffering from gastrointestinal bleeding experience thirst, low blood pressure and dizziness. The patient may notice black tarry stools.


Laboratory tests, Endoscopy and rectal examinations may be needed to determine the source of the gastrointestinal bleeding. Excessive bleeding can lead to anemia. In severe cases, it can lead to shock and may need hospitalization for further treatment. There might be need for blood transfusion. Upper GI bleeding can be treated with injection of chemicals. Medicines are then prescribed to prevent the bleeding from recurring. If polyps or hemorrhoids are the cause for gastrointestinal bleeding, they are surgically removed.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: August 24, 2019