It is very important to observe what’s in the toilet bowl before flushing it away. This is because the appearance of your stool can tell you a lot about your health.
The appearance and frequency of your stool gives you clues about how your gastrointestinal tract is functioning and can even signal serious disease processes that could be occurring, like infections, digestive problems and even cancer.
Healthy Stool vs Unhealthy Stool
There is a huge difference between a healthy and unhealthy stool.
A healthy stool is light to dark brown, smooth and soft. It is formed into one long shape.It is S-shaped and is about 1 to 2 inches in diameter and up to 18 inches long. A healthy stool has a uniform texture and quietly and gently dives into water. Though it might not smell good but it should have a natural non – repulsive smell.
An unhealthy stool is painful and hard to pass, and may require straining. It has an extraordinary smell and possibly a strange colour.
Fators that influence your bowel habit include
- Hormonal Fluctuation
- Sleep Patterns
Stool Colour and what it tells
Eating lots of green leafy vegetables can give stool a greenish colour. Food colouring including green and blue dye, and iron supplements can also turn it green. Also, it may be due to bile pigment in the stool because diarrhea moves food too quickly through the intestine so the intestinal chemicals and bacteria can’t break down the bile pigment to its normal brown color.
Bright red stool can be caused by beets, cranberries, tomato juice or other red fruits and vegetables such as beets, tomatoes, cranberries. Food colouring or red medicines can also turn stool red.
Black or Dark Stool
Certain foods, supplements, and medications can temporarily turn stool black. Stool that is almost black, dark, or tarry with a thick consistency may indicate bleeding in the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract, such as the stomach or esophagus . It can also be caused by medical conditions such as duodenal or gastric ulcers, esophageal varices , and gastritis.
White, pale or gray stools
This may indicate a lack of bile, which may suggest a serious problem (hepatitis, cirrhosis, pancreatic disorders, or possibly a blocked bile duct). Antacids may also produce white stool.
Blood in Stool
The colour of blood in the stool depends on where it is in the digestive tract. It could be bright red,dark red or invisible.
Bright red blood in stool is more likely to come from bleeding in the lower gastrointestinal tract, such as the large intestine or rectum, due to conditions such as arteriovenous malformations, hemorrhoids, anal fissures, ulcerative colitis, diverticulosis, or colon cancer.
Blood from the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract, such as the stomach or esophagus, will look dark by the time it exits the body.
Blood may also be present in stool but not visible. It is called “occult” blood. Tests such as the fecal occult blood test may be used to detect hidden blood in stool.
Mucus in Stool
Although mucus is commonly found in stool, you normally don’t notice it because it tends to be clear. Mucus is thick, jelly-like substance which lubricates your intestines (protecting them from stomach acid, bacteria, viruses, or fungi) and makes bowel movements slippery and easy to pass. Mucus in your stool could indicate inflammation or irritation in the intestinal wall and signal an underlying health issue.
Bristol Stool Chart(Meyers scale)
Do you feel uncomfortable talking about your stool?. If your answer is ‘yes’. Then you need a Bristol Stool Chart to explain the changes you’ve noticed in your stool to your doctor.
Image source : WebMD(link
Bristol stool form scale, or BSF scale is a diagnostic medical tool designed to classify the form of human faeces into seven categories.
Type 1: Separate hard lumps like nuts which are hard to pass. Experts said this type of stool could be an indicator of constipation. It might mean a patient is not eating enough fibre, such as fruit, vegetables and cereals.
Type 2: Sausage-shaped but lumpy. This is indicates that a person could be slightly constipated.
Type 3: Like a sausage but with cracks on its surface. This is considered to be a healthy stool.
Type 4: Like a sausage or snake and smooth and soft. This is also considered to be a healthy stool by medical professionals.
Type 5: Soft blobs with clear cut edges and usually passed easily. This could also be an indicator people are lacking fibre in their diet.
Type 6: Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, mushy stool. This category on the Bristol Stool Chart could indicate inflammation of the bowel.
Type 7: Water, no solid pieces and entirely liquid. This is also a sign that a person is unwell. It could be caused by a virus, bacterium or parasite.
Stool Analyzer – Online Tool
Stool Analyzer is a free online tool that you can use to get a better understanding of your stool.
The tool asks you questions about the size, shape, colour, behaviour, and frequency of your stool sessions. Within minutes you can have a pretty accurate assessment of the health of your digestive system.