mucus to become thick and sticky. The mucus builds up
and clogs passages in many of the body's organs, but mostly in the lungs and
pancreas. The thick and sticky mucus can block
enzymes from reaching the digestive system and prevent
fat from being digested and absorbed. If the body is not able to digest fat,
the fat comes out in stools that are large, greasy, and smelly.
People who have been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis may have a stool
analysis to see how well their pancreas is working and how well their bodies
are digesting food. It may also be done when cystic fibrosis is suspected
because of the following symptoms:
Large, greasy, smelly
Unexplained weight loss or
failure to gain or maintain weight
Repeated lung infections
Before having this test, you will eat foods that contain
specific amounts of fat. You will keep a record of foods you eat and you will
collect samples of your stool. The samples are then sent to a lab where the
stools are analyzed for fat content.
Why It Is Done
A stool analysis is done to see how
well the pancreas is working and if pancreatic enzymes are reaching the
intestine. This test can help determine whether
supplemental digestive enzymes are needed. For people who are currently taking
digestive enzymes, this test can help determine if they are taking the right
Increased fat in the stool or low enzyme
levels can mean that a person has digestive or pancreatic problems.
What To Think About
Other diseases besides cystic
fibrosis can cause fatty stools and pancreatic problems. For more information,
see the topic Stool Analysis.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.