Your bowel movements are private and a little bit embarrassing. You probably don’t talk about them with your loved ones and you might not even want to discuss such intimate things with your own physician. However, bowel movements can reveal a lot about your overall health. In this article, we will look at what is normal.
10. Comfortable Bowel Movements
Your bowel movements should never cause pain or distress They should always be comfortable. In fact, you should not have to push excessively. The entire experience should feel smooth and easy.
You’ll want to make note of the color, shape, and size to ensure that everything looks good. Also, the smell might matter, so don’t overlook it if the BM is excessively rank or rather mild.
9. Brown Is Best
Stool usually ranges in color from brown to green. Usually, the hue depends on the food you have consumed in the last three days. If your stool appears green, then it might have taken less time to digest. However, any time your stool appears black or tar-like, you should be concerned because it can indicate blood.
8. How Many Bowel Movements Are Normal?
Normal bowel habits vary greatly between people. Some people might have a bowel movement three times a week and others more frequently. However, if you do not have a bowel movement at least three times every seven days then you might be constipated.
Also, you should monitor changes. If you have always experienced a bowel movement every other day but then you start having three a day, then you’ll want to seek medical advice because you might have some underlying condition. Never ignore dramatic bowel changes.
Frequent bowel movements might indicate that you ate something that does not agree with you. Also, dehydration can impact your bowel movement frequency. However, if the unnatural frequency continues then you’ll want to seek medical help.
7. Smelly Stool
The smell of your stool is usually caused by the food you consume but, in some cases, it might indicate an underlying health condition that you cannot ignore. If your food is not digested properly then it can start to ferment, which leads to the smell.
A healthy digestive tract breaks food down in the small intestine and will usually never ferment in the large intestine. If your stool frequently smells, then you might want to see your doctor.
The foul-smelling stool might indicate an intestinal infection or celiac disease. You could have leaky gut too.
6. Loose Stool
Loose stool could indicate celiac disease. About 83 percent of people who suffer from celiac disease remain undiagnosed. People who have celiac disease cannot digest gluten. Over time, it ends up ruining the villi, which are the tiny finger-like protrusions located inside of your small intestines. Once the damage occurs, you can suffer from abdominal pain, gas, nausea, and loose stool.
A gluten-free diet helps with the absorption of your food and can tighten your stool. If you suspect that you have celiac disease, consult with your physician.
5. Floating Stool
Sometimes stool floats in the water of the toilet. Usually, floating stool means that it is filled with gas from the digestive tract. However, if your stool frequently floats then there might be a problem.
If the stool looks slick or oil-covered then you might be consuming too much fatty food. Also, it can mean that your body is unable to effectively absorb the fat from the foods you are eating. The failure to absorb fat can occur with pancreatitis or malabsorption syndromes such as celiac disease. You’ll want to consult with your physician to determine if there might be a problem.
4. Understanding Constipation
If you regularly go to the bathroom daily, then you probably don’t think you are constipated. However, even if you have daily bowel movements, you still might suffer from constipation.
Is your stool hard or lumpy? Are you straining to have a bowel movement? You might have inadequate fiber intake, which can lead to constipation.
Ideally, an adult should consume 15 grams of fiber every day, but in America, people usually eat half that amount. Try to read the labels on your foods to check for fiber content. Also, keep a food journal to monitor how much fiber you are eating daily. Add fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and vegetables to your diet to increase your fiber intake.
3. The Shape of Stool
Healthy stool looks like a hot dog or sausage link. It is not too hard and not too soft. Deviations in appearance might indicate a problem such as constipation or irritable bowel syndrome. Other causes of stool shape changes include Crohn’s disease, cancer, and bowel obstruction. If your stool looks like pencil lead or thin ribbons, then you might want to schedule an appointment with your doctor to make sure everything is okay.
2. Medication and Bowel Changes
If you take a prescription medication, it might cause diarrhea. Certain meds, such as metformin, antibiotics, antacids, and NSAIDs, can all cause loose stools.
Some OTC meds can lead to color changes too. Pepto Bismol is notorious for causing black stool. However, the discoloration is always temporary and harmless.
1. Bloody Stool
Any time you notice blood in your stool, there is cause for alarm. The bloody stool can indicate cancer, peptic ulcers, anal fissures, hemorrhoids, and a variety of other conditions. If there is blood in your stool, then it might appear bright red or the stool might simply be black and tar-like.