What Your Stool is Telling You

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10 Health Dangers to Watch for in Your Feces

what your stool is telling youIt’s a topic we all know well … and if you’re lucky takes place at least one time a day. But chances are that poop is probably not a topic you’ve discussed often, even though maybe you should.

The truth is, your stool can reveal a lot about your health.

The color and shape are particularly important to take note of. Did you know, for instance, that a healthy stool should be shaped like a brown torpedo and be soft and easy to pass?

If this doesn’t sound familiar, read on, as your poop could be trying to tell you something …

10 Dangers to Watch for in Your Stool

10. Pellet-Like Stools

This can mean you need to eat more fiber in your diet or can be a sign of constipation. But if you have pellet-shaped stool on a regular basis, it can also indicate diverticulosis, which leads to pockets forming in your colon (where the stool can get stuck and formed into pellets). This condition often progresses to diverticulitis, which is an inflammation of the colon “pockets.”

9. Pencil Thin Stool

If a tumor or polyp in your digestive tract grows large enough, it can reduce the diameter of your colon, leading to pencil thin stools. This can be a sign of colon cancer and should be checked out by your doctor immediately.

8. Watery Stools

Loose, watery stools, or diarrhea, affect nearly everyone from time to time and typically go away within a day or two. Most often, the cause is bacteria, parasites or viral infection (from contaminated food or water, for instance), and the watery stools is your body’s way of trying to rid your body of the toxins faster.

If your stool is watery for a longer period, such as a month or more, it could be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease, and should be checked out by your doctor. Any persistent diarrhea deserves medical attention as it can quickly lead to serious dehydration, especially in children.

7. Greasy, Floating Stools

In most cases, floating stools are the result of dietary changes leading to excess gas, which allows the stool to float. But if the stool is also greasy, it can mean your body is not absorbing fat properly from your diet. This can be a sign of pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, celiac disease or other conditions and warrants a trip to see your doctor.

6. Green Stool

A green-colored stool may occur if you eat a lot of spinach or consume certain medications (antibiotics) or iron supplements. It can also occur when bile is not digested properly and can be a sign of Crohn’s disease.

5. Black, Tarry Stool

Iron supplements can turn your stool a dark, black color, but if you’re not taking iron, it could be the result of a bleed in your stomach or upper gastrointestinal tract. See your doctor if your stool is black.

4. Clay-Colored Stool

If your stool is very pale in color, like light-colored clay, it can be a sign of blocked bile flow or liver disease, as it is bile from the liver that gives stools much of its brown color. This can also be the result of antacid use (particularly those that contain aluminum hydroxide).

3. Red Stool

If your stool is red, it’s often a sign of blood — the question is, from where? Most often, bright red blood in your stool is the result of hemorrhoids, straining, or small tears in anal tissue. But, it can also be the sign of something more serious, such as a lower GI bleed, diverticulosis, ulcers, ulcerative colitis, or rectal cancer, and should be evaluated.

2. Very Foul-Smelling Stool

All poop has an unpleasant odor, which is generally caused by the bacteria that ferments food in your intestines. But if your stool has a particularly bad odor, it can be a sign of parasitic infection (such as the giardia lamblia parasite, which also causes yellow, loose stools).

1. Yellow Stool

As mentioned, yellow diarrhea is often a sign of infection with the giardia lamblia parasite. It can also be a sign of improper bile digestion caused by gallbladder dysfunction.

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Comments

  1. steve says

    The issue with hemorrhoids are somewhere in between and condition and a disease. One factor that is known to contribute quite a bit to hemorrhoids is constipation and the issue is that pressure and straining cause hemorrhoids mechanically, but of course you can try and avoid the constipation situation.

    Generally fiber and drinking more water is suggested for that.

    Steve

  2. Lisa says

    Thank you for this article. Healthy bowel movements are something very few people seem to have these days and no one wants to talk about it., even though it is the epicenter of many health problems.
    Always surprising that there is no mention of dehydration and not enough water intake. If I have pellet poop it seems always related to not drinking enough water.

  3. S.Kailasam says

    The article is very informative & useful in determining the health of one from the nature of stools & take steps accordingly.
    S.Kailasam.

  4. O. K. says

    A very important article.a man in my Cancer support group started to have very pale stools and very dark urine and ignored it for months. He has since passed away from bile duct cancer.
    Just note that red stools can be seen after eating a lot of beetroot

  5. Ernie says

    With regards to the comment from Shree Nair regarding hemorrhoids, I suffered with them most of my life and the frequent bleeding that goes with them when you go to the toilet. I went to my doctor who helped me with the usual remedies creams, suppositories etc., without success. I was very reluctant, if not scared to undergo surgery, which in the early years was the only cure. At the age of 52 I decided enough was enough and asked my doctor if there was any alternative to surgery. By this time the medical advice was to try “banding”. The treatment is that they effectively put rubber bands on the hemorrhoids which cuts off the blood flow and they eventually pass away in your stool. I have to say that the actual treatment caused little pain but for a few days after I did experience pain in my rectum. However I can honestly say that the treatment gave me a new life without hemorrhoids. I can now go to the toilet with no discomfort and have done so now for many years. Helen was the nurse who carried out the procedure and I thank her every day for giving me a life without hemorrhoids. At the time she described it as a bum lift. I would say to anybody who is suffering with hemorrhoids do enquire into this procedure and stop your suffering, since it was a simple procedure which was undertake over some four hospital visits.

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