12 Things Bowel Movements can Tell about Your Health – Learn What They Mean

Are you consuming the right foods? Is your digestive tract strong and healthy? Your bowel movements can provide a lot of important information about your health. Paying attention will give you the opportunity to identify a problem before it becomes a serious one.

The normal number of bowel movements varies from one individual to another. Some people have three to four bowel movements per day; others have only a couple per week.

Anything fewer than that is considered constipation that could be caused by improper hydration, poor nutrition or a medical problem. Unusual stool could also be indicating a problem so you may want to pay attention before you flush.

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Leaky Stool

What it means:
An infection or a food intolerance could be contributing to this problem. Lactose intolerance is a really common cause but leaky stool may also be attributed to a more serious gastrointestinal issue. Elderly individuals and women that have recently given birth are more prone to experiencing the problem.

What to Do:
Strengthening the sphincter muscles is one possibility for overcoming leaky stool problems. You’ll simply need to tighten those muscles. Consuming foods rich in fiber is also a great idea.

When to Worry:
If the leaky stool problem continues for more than a day or two, you’ll need to talk to a physician and determine the exact cause.


Pebble-Like Stool

What it means:
This problem is a sign of constipation, meaning that your diet is fiber-deficient. You should be consuming at least 25 to 35 grams of fiber from fruits, vegetables and wholegrains per day. Getting to this amount is much easier than you think, you’ll simply need to diversify your diet a little bit.

What to Do:
Apart from eating fiber-rich foods, you’ll also need to increase your H2O intake. Water is essential for proper digestion, and it also makes it easier to pass stool without strain. Get in the habit of drinking your eight glasses of water per day.

When to Worry:
If the pebble-like stool is accompanied by other symptoms, you’ll need to consult a physician. Do you feel that your bowels haven’t been emptied completely? In this instance, you could be suffering from an internally herniated rectum.


Unusual Stool Color

What it means:
Does your stool appear excessively red or black? Certain medicines and even foods can be contributing to this phenomenon. Beet, for example, could color both your stool and your urine.

When to Worry:
Make sure that the red color is not caused by bleeding. If so, you could be experiencing a problem like hemorrhoids or possibly even cancer. Blood in the stool is always a cause of concern. Your physician will help you determine what the cause of the problem is and which treatment is going to deliver the best results.


Loose Stool

What it means:
Diarrhea or loose stool is caused by the excessive consumption of artificial sweeteners. These are frequently used in sodas and diet beverages. Some of these artificial sweeteners could act as a laxative, resulting in leaky stool.

What to Do:
Cut down on the soda or stop its consumption altogether. Boost your intake of fiber-containing foods.

When to Worry:
Diarrhea that occurs after the consumption of milk, cheese and yogurt could be indicative of a lactose intolerance. Frequent diarrhea bouts are sometimes caused by infections, Celiac’s disease or inflammatory bowel disease.

Just like with the problems mentioned previously, talk to your physician if loose stool doesn’t resolve on its own in a couple of days. You’ll also have to seek medical assistance if you are experiencing severe diarrhea. This problem can easily lead to dehydration.


Sticky Stool

What it means:
Do you have the need to wipe constantly after a bowel movement? Sticky stool can sometimes be indicative of a GI bleeding. Hemorrhoids could also cause constant wiping and an inability to clean the region properly.

When to Worry:
You should be concerned if the sticky stool is red in color. It could possibly contain blood, which indicates a bigger issue. See your doctor figure out whether you’re suffering from hemorrhoids or GI bleeding. Individuals over the age of 50 will usually be advised to get a colonoscopy that can identify serious problems of the digestive tract.


Painful Bowel Movements

What it means:
Constipation and hemorrhoids are two of the most frequent causes of painful bowel movements. Over the counter remedies can be used to decrease the pain and discomfort. Stool softeners are another viable option.

What To Do:
If the OTC treatment fails to resolve the problem within a couple of days, you will need a medical examination. Ongoing pain could be indicative of sphincter tears that will not heal without proper treatment.


Constipation

What it means:
Constipation is mainly caused by a poor diet and even poorer hydration. Too much junk food, pizza, pasta and bread will be depriving your body from the essential fiber and vitamins that it needs. Some medications could also contribute to constipation. The list of side effects will give you a better idea about the possibility.

What to Do:
A simple diet change will often be sufficient to overcome the problem. Make sure that you’re eating fresh fruits and veggies on a daily basis. Drink your eight glasses of water, as well. A bit of exercise will also improve the situation.

When to Worry:
Constipation that continues for weeks and additional symptoms like pain should be a cause of concern. Talk to your physician, especially if you’re older than 50 and you go for more than a week without a bowel movement.


Greenish Stool

What it means:
Foods like spinach can color your stool. If you experience the problem for more than a day, however, you could have an infection. See a doctor if the unusual color is accompanied by symptoms like cramping and fever.


Very Light-Colored Stool

What it means:
The color of stool results from the activity of bile. Grayish or even beige stool could be indicative of an obstruction in the bile duct. Cancer and liver disorders may also contribute to light color.

What To Do:
Just like in the case of the other symptoms, talk to a doctor if the unusual coloration continued for more than a day or two.


Foul Odor

What it means:
Certain foods cause the production of sulfur-containing compounds. These are the ones responsible for the odor of stool. Foods like Brussels sprouts, for example, cause the increased production of such compounds.

What To Do:
A foul odor can also indicate a problem like GI bleeding. Fat making its way into the feces will also contribute to extra-bad smell. Problems of the liver and the pancreas are characterized by this symptom. Talk to a physician just to be sure.


Very Thin Stool

What it means:
Pencil-thin stool is a symptom of insufficient fiber in your diet. A symptom that continued for a long period of time may indicate rectal cancer.


Too Much Mucus in Stool

What it means:
Mucus is essential for passing stool but it shouldn’t be present in large quantities in your feces. Younger women that suffer from irritable bowel syndrome could be experiencing this problem. Mucus in stool is also a symptom of constipation.

When to Worry:
Having mucus in stool that is accompanied by pain and bleeding should be checked out by a physician.

About the Author Calleigh

Calleigh is passionate about inspiring others to a healthy living and encourages to re-discover their lifestyle. Her keen interest in health shines through in her written work on DIY skin care, beauty tips, healthy and active lifestyles.

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