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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.

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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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Hi i have problem when i do poo its very painful and i bleed bright red colour every time i go toilet.





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I'm 24, I found a stringy bit in my stool which I've never seen before, about 2.5 cm long. It looked like a part of my insides though. I have recently changed my diet dramatically following a 7 day detox diet (I'm on day 5). Could this be to do with why it?





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I'm no expert and please don't be alarmed but it sounds like this could be some kind of a parasite or worm following your detox. But your best bet would be to have this checked via your GP. The detox you are on maybe be helping get rid and push things through the gut, also check back on the detox your using to find out what effects the detox could have on your stools/bowel movement s etc. I'm currently taking diatomaceous earth food grade as a natural detox and notice a change in the colour of my stools which led me to this site. The stuff I'm on doesn't cause any laxative like results but very good in killing off parasites , worms or toxins built up in the gut and helps to clear them through, the results of other users have shown to be very promising. Hopefully nothing to worry about.

i dont have gallbladder, have liver infection so i stopped taking padmed laxan to make me go cauz my stomach worked only 20%. noiw my dr stopped me from taking all meds so my stool is very hard, please help, im so afraid to eat. i dont eat processed meat. i eat healthy. im 63 years old.





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my husband poos several times a day, mostly its in small pieces, he is worried about this - in the mornings he can be late to work as he feels he needs to go a few times and cannot wait . I tend to go once a day. which is normal?





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my poo is normal to start but only twice i have done this a normal poo and at the end it a bit like water at the end ...





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Ive been having stomach pains for some time, now I have an orange cloud around my stool, my stool is the normal light brown though.





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My partner is 43 and has been impacted with faeces for over 4 weeks now laxatives and enemas are not working he has seen little bits of black bits he has seen his doctors who just give different laxatives all the time





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The last 3 trips to the bathroom have resulted in greenish stool? is this anything to worry about?





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So the past month every now and again my stools go greena nd very sticky I ignored it but recently I've been waking up with extrememly bad stomach cramps and back pain, during the day and night it almost feels like the whole inside of my body has bubbles in it, and I am very gassy, my stools started off green then normal and now have become yellow and like water now I'm on my third day of this it is still very yellow but hardly any comes out, I find I'm getting a small amount of yellowy brown mucus too, I've been feeling very sick but haven't been sick! Always have bad breath no. Mateer how much I change my diet and brush my teeth every few hours, I feel very tired and also have found that my stomach is in pain all day, I'm not sure if its relevant also I get badd knee pains, I am always bloated before I go to bed and its keeping me up because it is just rediculous how tight my stomach goes someone please help me out.





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I've read many articles on whats normal, in colour, shape, etc. My question is whitish lumps in the stool. In fact all through, some large, some small, but it definitely is never all just one colour. And I'm not referring to undigested pieces of corn or seeds, this is a creamy portion scattered throughout.





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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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