This may sound incredible to you, but an average person generates about 5 tons of stools in its whole life span. Even though, no one likes this topic, stool is really a part of all of us and it is a health indication to many diseases. Therefore, we should never neglect this fact, and always check what we leave behind us.
No one likes this, but we have to:
Look, Listen and Smell Before We Flush
The way how our stool looks, starting from the color, shape, size, and to every other fecal features, can tell us plenty about our overall health. What diseases are going on in our body system such as digestion issues, infections, and even cancer; and as well as how our gastrointestinal system is functioning.
The characteristics of our stool can provide us with much valuable information about our digestive system whether it is healthy or not. All this is reflected into the shape, color, size, odor and also in what sound it makes when it hits the water, and if it is a “sinker” or a “floater”, and believe it or not all these are vital information.
So, what is normal and what is not in our stool?
Look at the following list of all features of the stool to see whether it is healthy or not in order to be well informed and not to create panic. Yet, if you have some of the signs that seek a medical attention then make sure to visit your doctor, especially if they are accompanied by abdominal pain.
Features of Healthy Stool
- Color: medium to light brown.
- Texture: soft and smooth; form: one long shape and not consisted of lot of pieces.
- Size: around 1 to 2 inches in diameter and up to 18 inches long.
- Shape: it has S-shape, which is same to the shape of the lower intestine.
- Sound: when falling it should be quiet like a gentle dive into the water, meaning it should fall into the bowl with a little “whoosh” sound, not being loud like damp cannonball splash for which afterwards you will have a need of a shower.
- Smell: It can’t smell good, but it has to be natural odor, not so repulsive.
- Texture: uniform.
- Slowly sinking.
Features of Unhealthy Stool
- Stool that requires straining so that it passes, thus being hard and painful.
- It may consist of hard pieces and lumps; or being watery and mushy; or maybe pasty and difficult to clean off.
- Narrow, ribbon-like or pencil-like stools: unfortunately, this can indicate a bowel obstruction or tumor, or in worst case scenario, colon cancer. However, if you seldom have narrow stools, then you should not worry about ii, but if this becomes a frequent occurrence then you need to visit your doctor.
- Bright red stools or black, tarry stools may mean bleeding in the GI tract. Yet, black stools can be a result of some medications, supplements or consuming black licorice. But, to be on the safe side, if you experience this type of stool it is better to consult your doctor.
- Gray, pale or white stool may suggest shortage of bile, which might mean a serious health issue like pancreatic conditions, liver disease, cirrhosis, or probably a blocked bile duct. This is a clear sign for seeking an advice from your doctor. Likewise, antacids may create white stool as well.
- Yellow stools may be a sign of giardia infection, a gallbladder issue, or a condition called Gilbert’s syndrome. If this is your case, consult your doctor.
- If undigested food is present in your stool, especially it would be a concerning matter if it is accompanied by diarrhea, weight loss, or other changes in bowel habits.
- Splashers or floaters.
- Large quantities of mucous in your stool: this condition may indicate ulcerative colitis, or it may be linked to the inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease, or even colon cancer, particularly if accompanied by blood or abdominal pain.
Here below is the Bristol Stool Chart which can be very helpful for finding out where are you heading to. The ideal stool would be Types 3, 4 and 5, “like a sausage or a snake, smooth and soft” to “soft blobs that pass easily.” Type 4 is the Holy Grail of produced stool.
Stool With A Really Bad Odor
As we mentioned before, stool cannot have nice smell, however if it is really stinky and repulsive, then you cannot ignore it. Stinky odor can be linked to many diseases like:
- Celiac disease
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Crohn’s illness
- Cystic fibrosis
- A malabsorptive disorder
What is normal bowel movement?
We cannot specify what regular bowel movement is, but we can say that it is important what’s regular for you. Namely, three bowel movements every day to three per week are believed to be normal.
Another thing is very important, and that is not the frequency, but the ease by which you move your bowels. If you put no pressure or strain to moving them, then you have a normal bowel movement. If it is the other way round then you should consider a visit to the doctor. There should be no effort when moving your bowels; it should not take more effort than urinating or passing gas.
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