There are two types of people, one who talks openly about the color and consistency of their stool while there are most people who are shy enough to talk about it and try to avoid the topic- of stool color meaning and pattern interpretation.
But one day or another, when we visit physicians, we have to answer when they ask- “what is the color of stool you are having?”. In the end, we all poop! Then why be ashamed and not ask questions about your tummy?
It is equally important for a doctor to ask color and consistency of poop. This may not appear an important question, but it can reveal a lot about the bowel movement and other conditions of the patient. This blog will just help understand the different colours and consistency of stool.
In this blog, we will make things easy and divide the topic- Color and Consistency of Stool, into three parts:-
1. Normal Stool (Enterohepatic Urobilinogen Cycle)
2. Colors of Stool
3. Consistency and Pattern of Stool
Before diving into stool color meaning, let’s first focus on what normal poop looks like:
Normal Color of Stool
- The normal color of poop is Yellow and Brown. This is imparted due to Stercobilin, which comes from bilirubin through a complex cycle known as Enterohepatic Urobilinogen Cycle. Enterohepatic Urobilinogen Cycle starts from red blood cells lysis or breakdown.
- This destruction of senescent RBC and/or ineffective red blood cell formation (erythropoiesis) leads to the release of Haem (from haemoglobin). This gets converted into Bilirubin and transferred to the liver.
- From the liver, passed to the gall bladder and secreted into the Intestines. In the intestines, most of it is converted into UROBILINOGEN.
- This Urobilinogen, under Bacterial Influence, gets converted into Stercobilinogen/Stercoblin which is passed into faeces, hence, providing NORMAL YELLOW BROWN COLOR to the Stool.
Normal Consistency or Pattern of Stool
Healthy poop is snake or sausage-shaped. This indicates it had optimal nutrients and water in it. This is the result of healthy intestinal contractions without any pathology or disease in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT).
Interpretation of stool color is given as follows:
1. Brown Stool
The normal color of poop, nothing to worry about.
2. Light-coloured, White or Clay colored Stool
- This indicates a lack of stercobilin, i.e, a lack of bile in the intestines. It means a problem in the drainage of the biliary system, which can mean either the Liver is not releasing enough bile or there is bile duct obstruction, preventing the release of bile into the intestine.
- Some diseases in which White stool appears are biliary cirrhosis, gallstones, sclerosing cholangitis, as well as cysts, tumors or cancers of the liver, the bile ducts, gallbladder or pancreas, etc.
- It can also occur from anti-diarrheal drugs like bismuth subsalicylate and others. This stool color meaning is a little bit worrisome.
3. Black Stool
- This typically means there is bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract which can include the stomach, oesophagus and small intestine.
- The blood leaked from the organ had enough time to get dried and be black.
- Black stools are often referred to as “Melena” by doctors.
- Most worrisome stool color meaning you should look out for. Urgent care and medications will be required to handle this situation.
4. Bright Red Stool
This typically means there is bleeding in the Lower gastrointestinal tract, which includes the large intestine and rectum.
This is most common in haemorrhoids (piles). The blood didn’t have enough time to dry up, so it is more of fresh since it leaked from vessels.
5. Green stool
The basic principle infesting this is that food is moving in a much faster way in large intestines, thus, the bile juice from the gall bladder didn’t have enough time to be broken down into stercobilin by bacterial enzymes. This can occur in severe diarrhoea.
6. Blue stool
This occurs in dye techniques being used for the study of the gastrointestinal tract.
Consistency & Pattern
The consistency and shape or pattern of stool can be as:-
1. Hard pebble-like stool
This type of poop is hard to pass. It has been there in your large intestine for quite a long period, draining it of water and nutrients. It can mean Constipation often.
2. Liquid stool
It occurs when the small intestine is irritated. It causes quick passing into the large intestine, without absorbing nutrients and water
The large intestine also doesn’t get enough time to reabsorb this water and nutrients and excess water, thus, collects in the rectum. It pressurizes the rectum and thus, occurs as Diarrhoea.
It occurs when a lot of air has accumulated in your large intestines. It often means bad digestion. This air will get mixed with your stool and so, it will float.
Full of mucus
Mucus lines the lower GIT and lubricates the surfaces, thus, causing the easy passage of stool. A significant amount of mucus in your stool can often mean giardiasis and amoebiasis.
If other symptoms like blood are involved, one should see a doctor. This could sometimes mean serious complications like cancer of the colon or rectum, fissure or fistula of the rectum, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, etc.
Foul smelling stool
Normally, the poop gives a bad smell. It can often mean diet changes. But if it is excessively foul-smelling and intolerant, it can mean Crohn’s disease, Chronic pancreatitis, Intestinal infection, Malabsorption, Short bowel syndrome, etc.
Hope you got your answers if you had any. If you doubt that you are not pooping well, go see a doctor!