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Poop, prep & procedures: Demystifying the tests and treatments at the digestive health clinic

Poop, prep & procedures: Demystifying the tests and treatments at the digestive health clinic

Written by Caleb Johnson

Ever wondered what goes on behind the door of a digestive health professional’s office? No? Well, we’re going to tell you anyway! 

It’s easy to spiral when our minds are left to wonder what kind of contraption could be shoved where when we go to get our back doors examined, so we’re here to let you know it’s not all chainsaws and scalpels. Afterall, it’s always great to be prepared for whatever lies round the bend in life. 

Research found that 43% of a pool of over 2000 people experienced digestive discomfort, and 41% of those have never visited a doctor – rising to 61% of those aged 25-34. So, there must be something stopping people from taking to the GP when it comes to bottom health. 

As part of our Bowel Cancer Awareness Month campaign, we’re looking into the different kinds of tools and treatments someone could come across when getting their digestive health checked.  

Before we start  

Being able to talk about any issues we’re experiencing is so important, whether it’s with a loved one or a health professional.  

When we go to get our backside checked, it’s natural to feel a little uncomfortable at first. The doctor is likely to ask about what you’re experiencing like how often your bowel movements are. It’s super important that we’re able to listen to our bodies and convey what’s happening clearly so we can make the most out of the support we have.  


Right, now we’re all feeling open and comfortable, let’s dive in, bottom first of course! 

What can they even check at the clinic? 

Well, pretty much anything in your gastrointestinal tract! Wait, gastro what? The gastrointestinal tract is a fancy word for the organs that trail from your mouth to your perky peach. These include: 

- Oesophagus 
- Stomach 
- Small intestine 
- Large intestine 
- Rectum 
- Anus 

      These bits and pieces all come together to make up the mystic machine that is our gastrointestinal tract! We won’t get started on how amazing it really is, you can check that out in our last blog. 

      So, what tests do they do? Should I be worried? 

      Absolutely not! Tests and procedures vary from a simple breath test to having a little look inside you with a camera. There’s nothing to be worried about.  

      A lot of the gadgets and gizmos they use in the digestive health clinic look pretty cool too! Take a look at the Charlie’s Angels-esque picture of our CEO holding a proctoscope below.  


      Let’s have a look at the different tests they can perform to make sure everything is A-OK with your digestive health.  

      Breath tests 

      Did you know there’s breathalysers that can detect gut issues? Yeah, us neither. Anyway! 

      Hydrogen & methane

      This test can be used to work out if someone has lactose intolerance or small intestine bacteria overgrowth (SIBO). For both of these tests, the hardest part is probably the 14 hour fast beforehand. But we think that’s a small price to pay for a healthy body and ease of mind! 

      All you have to do for this test is drink a liquid high in lactose, and have your breath checked for hydrogen (yeah, that simple!). This shows that sugars aren’t being broken down like they should be. For SIBO, they’ll also look for methane, as this could mean that bacteria are breaking down fibre too early in the small intestine.  

      Helicobacter Pylori 

      Okay don’t freak out at that name. H. Pylori is simply a bacterial condition that causes ulcers in the stomach. But the test is actually really interesting! You just take a small pill, and if you have SIBO, the bacteria react with the pill, and it will show in your breath!  

      Faecal tests 

      There’s two types of faecal tests that are performed for digestive health, one is to find out whether there is signs of Calprotectin (basically something white blood cells release when there’s inflammation) which could be an indication of Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis, and the other is to see if there’s blood in the poop which could be a sign of polyps in the rectum or colon (which could turn into cancer).   

      Handing over a bit of your precious droppings can be hard, but we believe in you! If you love them, let them go... 

      All the scopy-s!  

      If you see a word withscopyat the end, it just means examination (especially with a tool), not as exciting as you were hoping probably. This procedure is when a camera is inserted into the body in some way to check out what’s going on. They’re often performed under slight sedation or anaesthetic for comfort. Ready to dive into the wonderous world of scopy? Let's go! 

      Down the trap! - Gastroscopy  

      A gastroscopy is usually used to diagnose conditions affecting the oesophagus, stomach and upper small intestine. This is a tube-like camera that slides down the oesophagus to see what on earth is going on down there. It’s usually used to check for conditions like Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Coeliac disease, Throat and stomach cancer, Ulcers and Barrett’s oesophagus (damage to the tissue lining from acid reflux).  

      Pills & Potions – Wireless Capsule Endoscopy


      Possibly one of the most futuristic procedures, a wireless capsule endoscopy is a pill sized camera that follows through your digestive system as if it were food! This is paired with a sensor that’s worn as a belt that receives images from the camera. It can take up to 144,000 images in one treatment! Now that’s some real state of the arse stuff! 

      These wireless capsules are great when trying to find polyps in the bowel, which have a possibility of turning into tumours if left untreated.  

      Trip into the forbidden cave – Colonoscopy  


      A colonoscopy is a process in which air is pumped into the anus and a tube is inserted into your backside (a colonoscope). There’s a camera and a light on the end of it to allow the doctor to find anything that doesn’t look quite right. This is great as they can see the entirety of the large intestine and look for polyps or signs of Inflammatory Bowel disease.  

      For every 1000 colonoscopy screenings, as many as 28 people’s lives are saved due to early detection of a condition.  

      If needed, they can take a biopsy to analyse tissue, but get this: the nerves in your colon don’t actually recognise temperature, touch, or pain so you won’t feel anything when having a biopsy taken! Crazy, huh? 

      You can find some other types of procedures in this article here 

      Giving shame the middle finger 

      When it comes to any ‘down there’ issues, doctors hold their patients’ dignity and comfort at the highest regard. They’re not blind to the nature of these procedures and understand that privacy and comfort are of the utmost importance.  

      If you ever need to go and get your digestive health checked, the last thing anyone wants is for you to feel embarrassed by what your body is going through. Rest assured that you’ll be safe and taken care of.  

      Don’t wait! 

      Going to the doctor is never going to be the most exciting experience, but hopefully knowing the types of tests, tools, and procedures has put your mind at ease should you ever need to visit a digestive health clinic.  

      If you notice something’s not quite right below the waist, don’t freak out, just go and chat with your GP! Professionals are called professionals for a reason, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with heading down, even if it’s just for reassurance.  

      As long as we’re checking our poo, catching symptoms early and chatting with a health professional when things seem out of the ordinary for us, we’re all making the right decisions for our digestive health! 

      DISCLAIMER: This is just the Wype team’s light-hearted take on what you’re likely to find in a digestive health clinic and is in no way medical advice. If you find yourself having any gut issues, first and foremost speak with your doctor.  

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