Did you know that an average person (age 70) produces about ten TONS of stool during their lifetime? As it seems, we have a lot to learn from this mountain of poop.

Sure, your bodily emissions aren’t exactly a dinner party topic, but it’s really important to educate yourself about bowel movements. In fact, by ignoring what you deposit in the toilet, you could be flushing your health down the drain.

LOOK, LISTEN AND SMELL BEFORE YOU FLUSH

Fecal features such as the shape, size and color, can tell a great deal about your overall health, how your gastrointestinal tract is functioning, and even provide clues about serious diseases that might be occurring, such as digestive problems, infections, orĀ even cancer.

The shape, color, size, odor, and even the sound your stool makes when it hits the water, and whether it is a “sinker” or a “floater”, are all very important information.

So what is normal, and what is not normal when you look into your toilet?

According to Remedy Yard, the table below will help you narrow down the things that you should be looking for, so that you aren’t needlessly alarmed. Obviously, there are also a few signs that might be a cause for concern.

Healthy Stool Unhealthy Stool
Medium to light brown Stool that is hard to pass, painful, or requires straining
Smooth and soft, formed into one long shape and not a bunch of pieces Narrow, pencil-like or ribbon-like stools: can indicate a bowel obstruction or tumor – or worst case, colon cancer; narrow stools on an infrequent basis are not so concerning, but if they persist, definitely warrant a call to your physician
About one to two inches in diameter and up to 18 inches long Black, tarry stools or bright red stools may indicate bleeding in the GI tract; black stools can also come from certain medications, supplements or consuming black licorice; if you have black, tarry stools, it is the best to consult with your doctor
S-shaped, which comes from the shape of your lower intestine White, pale or gray stools may indicate a lack of bile, which may suggest a serious problem (hepatitis, cirrhosis, pancreatic disorders, or possibly a blocked bile duct). In this case, we advise you to consult with your doctor. White stool may also come as a result of antacids.
Quiet and gentle dive into the water… it should fall into the bowl with the slightest little “whoosh” sound – not a loud, wet cannonball splash that leaves your toosh in need of a shower Yellow stools may indicate giardia infection, a gallbladder problem, or a condition known as Gilbert’s syndrome. If you notice this, check with your doctor.
Natural smell, not repulsive (Not saying it should smell good) Presence of undigested food. This should be more of a concern if it’s accompanied by diarrhea, weight loss, or other changes in bowel habits.
Uniform texture Floaters or splashers
Sinks slowly Increased mucus in stool – This can be associated with inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis – or even colon cancer if it’s accompanied by blood or abdominal pain
Hard lumps and pieces, or mushy and watery, or even pasty and difficult to clean off

Another handy “tool” when it comes to bowel movements is the Bristol Stool Chart. This chart may also help you learn what you should aim for. Ideally, your stool should look like type 3, 4 and 5. However, type 4 is considered to be the healthiest type of stool.

bowel movements types

DOES YOUR STOOL HAVE A REALLY BAD ODOR?

One thing that you must not ignore is if your stool has an extraordinary bad odor, because it can be associated with a number of health problems, such as:

  • A malabsorptive disorder
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Cystic fibrosis

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOUR BOWELS MOVE?

Normal bowel movements can vary from three per day to three per week – this is considered the normal range.

What’s even more important than frequency is the ease with which you move your bowels. If you need to push or strain, there is a great chance that something is wrong. Moving your bowels should take no more effort than urinating or passing gas.

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/women/features/digestive-problems

All other sources are linked within the article

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Did you know that an average person (age 70) produces about ten TONS of stool during their lifetime? As it seems, we have a lot to learn from this mountain of poop. Sure, your bodily emissions aren't exactly a dinner party topic, but it's really important to educate yourself about...