Occult Blood

What Causes Occult Blood?

Occult blood can have various causes, just like most other symptoms.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose occult blood, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "occult blood" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities:
  • Rectal Cancer
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Stomach Ulcers
  • Carcinoid Cancer
  • Stomach Cancer
  • Colon Cancer
  • Small Intestine Cancer
  • Crohn's Disease

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
Crohn's disease in remission
low alcohol consumption
low diastolic blood pressure
meals worsen right iliac pain
frequent unexplained vomiting
appendix removed before age 20
mild upper-right pain after food
very black/tarry stools
moderate left iliac pain
family history of colorectal cancer
wheezing
frequent meal-related bloating
... and more than 80 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of occult blood:
Cause Probability Status
Crohn's Disease 96% Confirm
Carcinoid Cancer 28% Unlikely
Ulcerative Colitis 15% Unlikely
Small Intestine Cancer 2% Ruled out
Stomach Ulcers 2% Ruled out
Stomach Cancer 1% Ruled out
Colon Cancer 1% Ruled out
Rectal Cancer 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate having had recent lab tests, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Occult blood. Have lab tests found blood in your stool within the past 6 months?
Possible responses:
→ Not tested within past 6 months / don't know
→ No, stool tested negative
→ In the past only, now resolved
→ Yes, trace or small amounts
→ Yes, enough for doctor to be concerned
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate absence of occult blood, history of occult blood, trace amounts of occult blood or significant amounts of occult blood, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
... and also rule out issues such as:
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