What is Culture Stool?
Stool culture test is also known as Bacterial culture or Feces culture or stool test. This test is done to determine the presence of pathogenic bacteria which are causing the infection in the digestive tract.
Why is Culture Stool done?
The stool culture test is done in the following conditions:
If your doctor suspects any stomach or intestinal infection
If you experience signs or symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and fever for a long time
If you have severe symptoms such as extreme dehydration or have diarrhea from traveling to another country.
What does Culture Stool Measure?
The stool culture test detects the presence of bacteria in the stool which is responsible for causing the infection in the lower digestive tract. This test differentiates between pathogenic (disease-causing) and bacteria of normal flora which are present in the digestive tract.
Certain microorganisms are a normal part of the flora which is present in everyone’s digestive tract. These aid in food digestion and also keeps a check on the growth of disease-causing bacteria.
Certain medicines such as broad-spectrum antibiotics obstruct the growth of normal flora (certain bacteria and fungi) and let other bacteria such as Clostridium difficile grow and survive in the digestive tract. Clostridium difficile are resistant to antibiotics which makes it difficult to treat. These conditions lead to symptoms such as abdominal pain and diarrhea
Pathogenic bacteria enter the human body through the intake of contaminated food and water. They start causing infection as soon as they enter the digestive tract. Sources of contaminated food include raw or undercooked eggs, beef or poultry, and unpasteurized milk. Sources of contaminated water include water from lakes or community water supplies.
The risk of exposure to pathogenic bacteria is more in developing nations. The symptoms of infection from pathogenic bacteria include prolonged diarrhea, blood in the stool, mucus in the stool, pain and cramps in the abdomen, and nausea. If diarrhea is not treated, it may cause further complications like dehydration and electrolyte imbalance which can be threatening, especially for children and elderly patients. Further, the symptoms of dehydration include dry skin, fatigue, and light-headedness.
In case of severe complications, the patient may have to be hospitalized to provide a replacement for lost fluids and electrolytes. Certain bacteria such as Escherichia coli release toxins which can cause serious complications like Hemolytic uremic syndrome in which there is the destruction of red blood cells and kidney failure.
The stool culture test is advised in case the symptoms become severe such as bloody diarrhea or mucus starts to appear in the stool.
Interpreting Culture Stool results
A positive result means that there is growth of a pathogenic microorganism in the stool sample, which indicates an infection.
A negative result means that there are no pathogenic organisms present in the stool sample.