Poop As The Health Indicator
Why You Need To Treat Your Poop As The Health Indicator
Most of the people find it disgusting to talk about such a stinking topic. But as a doctor, it is a very important topic. And it won’t be wrong if I say that it is a healthy habit to look at one’s poop. Most of the people do not look at their poop.
Regularly checking your poop might hint about diseases timely and might save a life. What comes out of you is actually a summary of how well your digestive tract is functioning and also a variety of diseases. Many diseases, in early stages, hardly show symptoms but changes in the poop can be seen for sure.
What to look for in one’s poop?
There are clear symptoms like-
- going to the toilet multiple times in a day,
- pain with defecation, or constipation.
In these cases, the patient feels uncomfortable and consults a doctor. The problem arises if and when there are no symptoms. So let us see what should a symptom free person check his stools for.
Some people poop daily once while some even thrice daily. Both are normal, as the frequency varies from person to person. What one needs to check out for is any change in the habits. When a person who poops once per day goes to the toilet three to four times, then it is a matter of concern.
This is the easiest to watch out for. Stools are solid and soft. They are soft enough to pass without any strain. On the other hand, if you strain a lot while passing stools, with or without pain, you might be having constipation. And if your stools are fluidic, may be watery, and they come out in a gush, you might have diarrhea because of one of the many known infections.
This is something that you need to actually see because a change in color will not produce any symptoms as such. The normal color of stools is somewhere between yellow to brown, owing to the bile pigments passed on from the liver. A change in color can be indicative of a lot of diseases.
Green, when food moves too quickly through the intestine not giving ample time for a breakdown of bile, as in diarrhea. This can also happen due to dietary causes and needs to be looked into.
White/Clay-colored, when there is no/less bile in the stools. This indicates liver dysfunction, such as jaundice or an obstruction.
Black/tar-like, points towards serious conditions, as the black color might be due to bleeding in the upper GI tract, like stomach or duodenum. This might be due to an ulcer, or even cancer. Such stools are often foul-smelling and usually not associated with pain on defecation. This color might also be due to certain medications.
Red, indicates fresh bleeding in the lower Gi tract, such as the rectum or large intestine. This again may or may not be associated with pain and a person who does not check his stools might end up bleeding for months resulting in anemia. It is most commonly due to hemorrhoids, but also a lot of other causes including polyps, infections, and cancer. Blood noticed in stools can be the earliest sign of life-threatening diseases and if noted early can be life-saving. A lot of food items are also indicated in giving a red hue to stools.
Yellow/Greasy, when fat is not or incompletely absorbed from the intestine. Such stools are heavy, and one can feel the greasy nature during their passage. A lot of diseases that interfere with the absorption can lead to these stools. These stools can also happen after the intake of beer, or some types of bread.
Worms, in your stools, may or may not have any associated symptoms. If you find them, medications are definitely inline depending on the type of worms found.
Food items, found unchanged in your stool, might be indicative of digestive insufficiency or improper chewing.
Foul-smelling poop is normal. It indicates a good bacterial growth, and these bacteria are good bacteria. So you need not go to the doctor just because your stool is foul-smelling.
Healthy bowel habits:
Just as a footnote, since we are talking about diseases that affect the GI tract and their effect on stools, we should know what constitutes healthy bowel habits.
- One should take ample fibers in their diet, as this helps in maintaining consistency. For a lot of people facing constipation and related issues, just increasing the fiber content might prove enough.
- Take at least 2-3 liters of fluids per day as this helps in proper hydration.
- Proper exercise also helps in proper bowel movements.
So keep checking your stools. You never know what you might find. And what you find might save your life one day.
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