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Video

Body Check – Stools Transcript

Dr Christian: Despite not being very pleasant, your poo is important, as not only does it remove waste from the body, it can tell you a lot about your general state of health.

The best way to spot a potential problem is to check yourself and there are some key things to look out for.

When it comes to shape, a sausage like form is normal but if your stools appear in separate hard lumps this can be a sign of constipation.

Width will also vary from person to person but look out for a prolonged change to narrower stools as it may be a sign of obstruction in the colon and it should be discussed with your doctor.

Soft forms or liquid, resulting in diarrhoea, can be a sign of infection like food poisoning – but can also occur after alcohol or spicy food. Thyroid problems can cause diarrhoea too.

If it doesn’t stop in a few days it could be IBS – irritable bowel syndrome – or Crohn’s disease.

How often you go isn’t generally a cause for concern – people differ, ranging from three times a week to three times a day. But if your regularity changes or if you swap between constipation and diarrhoea for no apparent reason these are possible signs of bowel cancer, and it’s really worth discussing with your doctor.

Stools get their normal brownish colour from bile. However, you may find you have various colour changes, which are more than likely to be influenced by something you’ve eaten. But it can sometimes indicate something more serious.

Red colouring can come from food, but blood can also cause it and although this isn’t nice to see, it is something doctors come across quite often, usually as a result of haemorrhoids or a small tear; if it persists make sure to get it checked out.

If the stools appear black, this can be digested blood, which could mean bleeding ulcers or tumours and is something really important to look out for and get examined.

Finally, white stools are definitely worth being evaluated by your doctor because they may indicate a serious problem in the liver, such as hepatitis.

For this body check and others featured on the site we want to hear about your findings. So please come back to share your results and discuss them with other site users.

And if you have any concerns or ongoing problems it’s best to contact your GP.

Read the video transcript

Body Check: Stools

Despite not being very pleasant, your poo is important as not only does it remove waste from your body, it can also tell you a lot about your state of health. In this video, Dr Christian tells you what changes to look out for in your poo.

Keep an eye out for changes in shape and width, as a prolonged change could be a sign of an underlying condition. What you’ve eaten can also have an effect on your poo, causing changes in form and consistency. Colour changes can also come from food, but red, black, or white stools could also indicate more serious conditions like digested blood or liver disease, so do get it checked out.

How often you go isn’t a cause for concern, but if your regularity changes or you constantly swap between constipation and diarrhoea, it could be a possible sign of bowel cancer and it would be advisable to discuss with a GP.

We want to hear about your findings, so please click the link below and add your results to our national survey.

If you are worried that your child is suffering from constipation, then read our condition guide especially for parents on the Embarrassing Bodies: Kids website.

+++UPDATE+++
From the 29th April – 5th May 2009 we conducted a National Health Survey to find out what the state of the nation’s stools was.

Over 15,000 of you responded and once again it was women that were more willing to share their findings, with 76% of respondents being female.

In total, 47% of people who took part reported Type 3 or Type 4 stools – which are normal, and sausage like in appearance – not too hard or soft. However, 22% of people reported Type 1 or Type 2 stools, which are much looser than is ideally the case. If this persists then it can be a sign of an infection, or more serious bowel conditions, such as IBS and Crohn’s.

Around 17% of respondents said that they had hard, pellety stools, and these can be a sign of constipation, so it might be worth looking at your diet if this persists for long periods of time.

Constipation can result in small amount of blood entering the stool (as can hemorrhoids or small tears to the anus) which will probably account for the 356 or so respondents that reported red blood in their poo. If this persists, it would be worth getting checked out by your GP.

A more serious concern was that around 7% of our respondents reported that they had black stools, and as this can be a sign of digested blood, it should always be checked out by your doctor, as it can be a sign of intestinal problems, and in rare cases serious conditions such as Bowel Cancer.

Yellowish stools have also caused concern for around 5% of you and the most common cause of this is a lack of bile caused by your poo moving too quickly through the digestive tract. Again if this is a persistent problem, then it should be checked by your doctor.

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Comments and Questions

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Please note: Unfortunately Channel 4 cannot respond to individual inquiries. If you have any concerns, you can check out NHS Choices, but ultimately it is always best to check with a health professional.

Hello. I am a 34 year old female. For the past month i have had real bad tummy pains it wont go away and my poo is runny or hard. Should i go to my doctor? Or will it pass? . Thanking you.





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I would go to the doctors at my school, but I don't know how much they can help. For a week now, my stool has been soft and sausage-like. It is almost like diarrhea. There has been some yellow in it as well. Sometimes bowel movements are followed by gas, bloating, and abdominal pain that stops once I have a bowel movement. If anyone knows what this is, please let me know. If it is something serious, I don't want to put it off.





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I keep having bouts of runny poo and it leaves me feeling sore in my tummy and tummy ache what causes this and how can I get back to normal I am struggling to know what to eat to stop this happening every morning.i am going on holiday in June and concerned this will upset my holiday. I have been diagnosed with diverticular disease but I am having more bad days now, just struggling .





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Does it matter if my stools usually float?





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My stool is brown with mucus and white nut like lumps that are crumbly. Sometimes small hard lumps other times soft balls





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I don't have pain at all but do have a lot of wind And my poo looks fine but for the last 4 weeks have had light blood on my poo





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aged 21,on anti depressants, pale yellow floaty blobs of poo that wont flush, sometimes blood,lower abdomen pain, bloated, sudden urge to go to loo could it be bowel cancer





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Hi so I'm worried about this problem' not sure if it's anything to worry about or not but I can poo upto 5 times threw our the day' my friend said to me' doesn't that concern you? I only have one every other day but then so did I use too' it's like five line of poo each time I thought it was diarrhoea at first but it's been like this for a good couple off weeks now if not longer' the other day when I went I found that my bum was bleeding? Mum said just keep an eye on it' I'm not getting blood now but my poo is still the same' would I be waiting my doctors time or is it something you think I may need get it checked out' I'm 8 and half stone 24 and wouldn't say I eat that much' thank you for any advise x





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I'm fifteen and I just came off my period but I'm still feeling really sick. My stomach keeps cramping and then my stool comes out really runny and in blobs. I've been feeling terrible constantly the last two days. It doesn't usually happen, but is this normal?





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I'm a 62 year old female. My poo is very sticky and smelly. My bowel leaks it takes me ages to clean myself and i get very sore. I have had polyps removed several times. I'm always tired. I just don't know what to do, doctor says everything is ok. But she isn't in the pain and discomfort I'm in.





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It looks like no one else has asked this question, so please fill in the rest of your details below.





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