There are two types of people, one who talk open about the color and consistency of their stool while there are most people who are shy enough to talk about it and try avoiding the topic. But one day or another, when we visit physician, 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 different color and consistency of stool.
In this blog, we will make things easy and divide the topic- Color and Consistency of Stool, into three parts as:-
1. Normal Stool (Enterohepatic Urobilinogen Cycle)
2. Colors of Stool
3. Consistency and Pattern of Stool
Normal Color of Stool
The normal color of poop is Yellow Brown. This is imparted due to Stercobilin, which come 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 release of Haem (from haemoglobin). This gets converted into Bilirubin and transferred to liver. From liver, passed to gall bladder and secreted into Intestines. In intestines, most of it is converted into UROBILINOGEN. This Urobilinogen, under Bacterial Influence, gets converted into Stercobilinogen/Stercoblin which is passed into faece, hence, providing NORMAL YELLOW BROWN COLOR to 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 result of healthy intestinal contractions without any pathology or disease in gastrointestinal tract (GIT).
Interpretation of stool color is given as follows:-
Normal color of poop,nothing to worry about.
Light-colored, White or Clay colored Stool
This indicates lack of stercobilin, i.e, lack of bile into intestines. It means problem in drainage of biliary system, which can mean either Liver is not releasing enough bile or there is bile duct obstruction, preventing release of bile into intestine. Some diseases in which White stool appears is 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 typically means there is bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract which can include stomach, oesophagus and small intestine. The blood leak from the organ had enough time to get dried and be black.
Bright Red Stool
This typically means there is bleeding in Lower gastrointestinal tract, which includes large intestine and rectum. This is most common in haemorrhoid (piles). The blood didn’t have enough time to dry up, and so it is more of fresh since it leaked from vessels.
The basic principle infesting this is that food is moving in a much faster way in large intestines, thus, the bile juice from gall bladder didn’t have enough time to be broken down into stercobilin by bacterial enzymes. This can occur as in severe diarrhea.
This occurs in dye techniques being used for study of gastrointestinal tract.
Consistency & Pattern
The consistency and shape or pattern of stool can be as:-
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.
It occurs when small intestine is irritated. It causes quick passing into large intestine, without absorbing nutrients and water. The large intestine also doesn’t get enough time to reabsorb this water and nutrients and excess of water,thus, collects in rectum. It pressurizes the rectum and thus,occurs as Diarrhoea.
It occurs when 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 easy passage of stool. 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 sometime mean serious complications like cancer of colon or rectum, fissure or fistula of rectum, ulcerative colitis, crohn’s disease,etc.
Foul smelling stool
Normally, the poop does gives a bad smell. It can often mean diet changes. But if it 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 if you are not pooping well, go see a doctor!