Bowel (or colorectal) disease can cover several types of bowel condition - the main ones are Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Bowel Cancer and Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD).
Symptoms can range from abdominal pain to diarrhoea, as well as cramping and needing to go to the toilet frequently.
Now scientists reveal that they have found a way to detect whether someone has a bowel disease and more importantly - which kind of disease as they can sometimes be hard to distinguish.
A team at the University of the West of England have created a test that makes the diagnosis by the smell of someone's stools, analysing chemical compounds.
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They looked at 182 samples from patients both with IBD and the less severe Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - the test results were 76% accurate.
The testing system, reported the BBC was "built combining a gas chromatograph and a metal oxide sensor to recognise patterns specific to known diseases."
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN IBD AND IBS?
Inflammatory Bowel Disease is an auto-immune disease that covers two conditions: Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis. These are ong-term (chronic) diseases that involve inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract (gut).
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a common digestive condition caused by an increased sensitivity to the gut. Symptoms are usually relieved after going to the toilet, and although experts don't know exactly what causes it, links have been made to previous food-related conditions.
At present, most bowel disease is confirmed with a colonoscopy (a tube inserted into the rectum with a camera at the end) so this hoping it will mean fewer invasive procedures.
Gary Douch, chairman of Bowel Disease UK was quoted as saying: "If this process is as accurate as 76% it will offer hope to those potentially suffering from IBD.
"If patients can be correctly diagnosed early without the invasive investigations, it will save the NHS money and also speed up much-needed treatment for the patient."
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