What Your Poop Is Telling You

Reviewed: August 25, 2016
By eHealthIQ
What Your Poop Is Telling You

Your stool can say a lot about your health. The number of times you go to the bathroom and the color, shape, and smell of your stool could indicate your overall health status. There are more bacterial cells in the digestive tract than there are in the entire body. This means that it is important that your bowel perform its function well to take up necessary nutrients, but also get rid of germs and chemicals that could be harmful to your health. Many people do not give much thought to the idea of going to the bathroom to relieve themselves. However, it is an essential body function that can alert you if something is not right. A change in diet can lead to a change in stool color, shape, and smell, which could indicate your health status.

Color
The color of your poop is usually a reflection of what you eat. Several shades of brown are considered normal, but yellow or black are not. Black stool could be an indication of bleeding in the first section of the small intestine or the stomach. Intake of iron supplement can darken your poop to dark green. Black stool may also be as a result of eating blueberries or black licorice and taking bismuth-containing medications such as Pepto-Bismol.

Stool that is bright red in color could indicate bleeding on the lower section of the digestive system like the rectum, large intestine, or anus. Yellow or pale white stool could also indicate a problem. Normal stool is usually brown because it contains bile, which is naturally produced by the body. Therefore, problems with bile production can also affect the color of your stool. Bile production may be affected by several factors including hepatitis, cancer of the bile duct, and pancreatic cancer.

Shape
You should be concerned when you notice a change in your stool shape. Some medical experts suggest that colon cancer is often characterized by narrow and pencil-thin stool. It could also be a sign of blockage in the lower part of the colon, which means the bowel is partly obstructed hindering the movement of stool from the large intestines into the rectum. Soft stool is also another sign of a potential health problem. Poop that is difficult to flush because it sticks on the side of the toilet bowl could point out the presence of too much oil. However, stool that floats or sinks does not necessarily mean that there is a problem

Smell
Poop smell can be rather disgusting. However, smells that are particularly foul or strange should not be overlooked. While it is hard to convince people that poop smell can get even worse, the truth is that it can. You should see a doctor if you notice persistent or unusual change in your stool. Poop is made up of dead cells, undigested food, mucus, and bacteria. The combination of the bacteria and parasites usually produces the bad smell. Stool also has compounds that produce a very unpleasant smell. Stool with lots of fat and blood usually comes with a particular pungent odor.

Certain foods can help enhance the health of your bowel. These foods include prunes, kiwis, popcorn, oranges, and oatmeal.

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