Is your poop trying to tell you something?

Your poop can tell you a lot about your health. The colour, consistency, shape and smell are of much significance.

Myupchar October 24, 2019 15:23:17 IST
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Is your poop trying to tell you something?
  • Studying your poop might not be the way you would like to start your day but it can tell you a lot about your health

  • There is no exact number of times a person should poop

  • Don't let a very slight variation once-in-a-while bother you, but if it looks like any of the following, it might be time to talk to a doctor

Just like humans, poop comes in all shapes and sizes. But what about colours, consistency and other changes you might notice? Studying your poop might not be the way you would like to start your day but it can tell you a lot about your health. The colour, consistency, shape and smell are of much significance. Sometimes you can instantly blame a particular meal you had for the changes. Other times changes can occur due to a change in eating habits or your environment.

So what is considered normal (or even ideal) when it comes to poop? 

There is no exact number of times a person should poop. Once a day is just as healthy as twice or thrice - depending on whether that’s been a regular practice for you. If the number changes suddenly, it could be a cause for concern. Other than that, it should be easy and quick to pass, cylindrical in shape and medium-brown in colour. Don’t let a very slight variation once-in-a-while bother you, but if it looks like any of the following, it might be time to talk to a doctor: 

Is your poop trying to tell you something

Representational image. Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

1. Black or tarry colour: Regular iron supplements or medicines that contain bismuth (used to treat stomach infections) can turn poop black or tarry. Additionally, according to the Hopkins Medicine Bulletin, if your gut is bleeding internally at any point, for example in the case of a stomach ulcer, the poop might appear black. Old blood in the stool appears black instead of red because of the digestion of blood cells.

2. Red spotting, complete red or maroon colour: Appearance of reddish stool could be because of recent ingestion of red-coloured foods such as beetroot, tomatoes, cranberries, and red jelly, etc. But the presence of fiery red spots or streaks in the stool points towards rectal bleeding that happens in case of piles or bleeding from the lower part of the gut due to colitis (inflammation in the colon part of the large intestine), colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease. If you notice too much blood in the stool, contact a doctor immediately.

3. Green colour: The liver releases bile pigments to help with fat digestion. Once broken down in the process, it turns the poop brownish - the usual colour of poop. Although in a scenario like diarrhoea, where the food moves very quickly through the intestine, the bile does not get enough time to do its job. Therefore, the green colour. On the other hand, eating lots of green veggies could also turn poop green.

4. Pale yellow: This could point towards celiac disease (gluten intolerance). Here, in the presence of gluten (a protein) in food, the immune cells mistakenly attack the intestinal lining. The consequence is inefficient absorption of nutrients and pale yellow stool.

5. Clay or white colour: This could represent an absence or reduced quantity of bile in the poop. This happens in case of liver disease where bile production is hampered, or gallstones where the bile release is obstructed. 

6. Dry and hard: Dry or hard stool could indicate a case of constipation. It occurs due to low water content in the stool, a low fibre diet or a few drugs such as narcotics or antidepressants. Constipation can cause incomplete emptying of the bowel. On applying force, the stool might pass in the form of pebbles.

7. Loose and watery: Almost everyone has experienced loose and watery stool at least once in their lives. This happens because of diarrhoea, which is caused by a virus, bacteria or parasite. The occurrence of such poop is extremely common in case of food poisoning, lactose intolerance and indigestion.

8. Sticky: When the stool sticks and does not flush away, it indicates an issue of fat digestion as a result of which the passed stool is oily or greasy with a sticky tendency. It could occur in the case of malabsorption syndrome or celiac disease.

9. Smelly: Normally, poop is not really great smelling. It smells due to the presence of bacteria and a few broken-down products of digestion. But if it starts to smell awful, it could mean some sort of mishappening in the digestive system. In diseases of the pancreas, infections, celiac disease and malabsorption - your poop smell could possibly be unbearable.

While some of us are becoming more comfortable with talking about poop, others still find it to be a tough subject to broach. It might help to remember that everyone poops! It’s a normal and healthy process. If you notice something about your poop that bothers you, don’t let it fester due to embarrassment. Set up an appointment with your doctor and talk it out!

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, please read our article on Diarrhea: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment.

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