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What Your Poop Is Telling You?

Poop emoji

Most people don’t want to talk about poop; It’s an off-putting topic and people generally feel uncomfortable and embarrassing when they have to talk about it, even with their doctor. But, the truth is the shape, size, smell, and color of your poop can tell you about your overall health and wellbeing. 

What is Normal Poop?

First of all, you need to understand that ‘normal’ differs from person to person. That means that your ‘normal’ might be somebody’s weird. You need to find out what’s the regular frequency, texture, and smell of your bowel movements so that you can determine your normal poop. 

As a general rule, it is considered a good health requirement to poop daily, and ideally first thing in the morning. This is also something that varies from person to person. But, you should be aware of the fact that what you eat and the diet you follow plays an important role in frequency and consistency of your poop. In other words, your poop is literally what you eat and the ideal indicator of your health. 

Your bowel movements can be influenced by including physical activity, sleep, water consumption, hormonal imbalance, menopause, and medical treatments. So please keep this in mind as you learn more. 

The Bristol Stool Chart

The Bristol Stool Chart describes seven types of poop categorized by texture and is used by medical professionals to classify bowel movements. It was originally developed and proposed for use by Dr. Stephen Lewis and Dr. Ken Heaton at the University Department of Medicine, Bristol Royal Infirmary.  Here’s a brief outline of the 7 types of stool they categorized:

  • Type 1 – separate hard lumps which are hard to pass
  • Type 2 – sausage-shaped, yet lumpy
  • Type 3 – sausage-shaped with cracks on the surface
  • Type 4 – sausage- or snake-like, smooth and soft
  • Type 5 – soft blobs with clear-cut edges which pass easily
  • Type 6 – soft and fluffy pieces with ragged edges
  • Type 7 – entirely liquid without solid pieces

This means that: Types 1 and 2 suggest constipation, 3 and 4 are the perfect types of stool, whereas 5, 6, and 7 indicate diarrhea. 

What is the Color Telling You?

Namely, if your poop color is anything else besides brown, it is normally due to the food you consumed although can indicate a serious health concern. 

Here’s a basic guide on what your poop color is telling you about your health:

  • Dark-colored (almost black) – bleeding from higher in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, stomach ulcer, or high iron levels;
  • Pale and clay-colored (white) – problems with bile, either inability to get into your GI tract or not enough bile produced by the liver, indicating a stone or a tumor, hepatitis, or cirrhosis;
  • Red – blood in your stool from the intestines, suggesting polyp, diverticulitis, inflammation, or colon cancer;
  • Yellow – issues with fat digestion, suggests celiac disease or chronic pancreatitis;
  • Green – a usual sign of infection.

If you have any concerns about your stool, contact your physician or medical professional. 

What is the Smell Telling You?

Stools have an unpleasant smell and that is completely normal regardless of the color or texture.  This odor is caused by the bacteria present in the colon which breaking down food. However, if the smell of your poop changes or you notice that it suddenly smells unbearable and abnormally bad, you’d better seek medical help and perhaps ask your doctor for a stool test to determine what is happening in your colon and intestinal tract. 

The extremely bad odor can be a result of an infection or even suggest colon inflammation due to inflammatory bowel disease, or indicate celiac disease, chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, or lactose intolerance.  Talk with your doctor or medical professional if you have concerns. 

The Link between Stool and Certain Health Conditions

Your stool can also point out to some digestive conditions when specific problems appear together with other symptoms. Such digestive conditions include IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. 

IBS, which is a very common colon disorder, can be identified when a person experiences bout of constipation or diarrhea, or sometimes even both, excess gas, and stomach pain.

Then, Crohn’s is the chronic disease characterized by inflammation of bowel which results in chronic diarrhea, significant weight loss, lower abdominal pain, and fever. 

And, similarly to Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory condition characterized by inflammation in the rectum that later spreads to other parts of the colon and results in chronic diarrhea with traces of blood.

Final Thoughts

Monitoring your poop is the perfect way to detect some serious health conditions in the early stages and to determine any changes needed within your diet, supplements or lifestyle.  Next time you go to the toilet, take a closer look at what you see, and smell, before you flush!

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