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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.

Im 14. For the past 2 days my number 2s have been very pale, almost beige in colour, quite soft and it burns a bit down there. Its also that time of the month so i don't know if that was anything to do with it. I kinda dont want to tell anyone. Should i be worried?





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My number 2 changes constantly yellow, brown, soft,hard mucus,no mucus?? I have had various tests but the doctor said I was too young for a coloscopy aged 26??? After feeling my stomach he signed me off and I've never heard anything since!,, iv suffered with on and off cramping and bloating for years but feel well most of the time is this ok?





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My husband's poop smells really sour and it looks like chicken korma sauce, he hasn't had any curry for a long time, he also has cramping pains in his stomach, please could you help us to find out what it could be, thank you, Sara Griffiths.





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I have problems going for a poo. However, when it eventually comes out, it is the correct colour and consistency but a little small skinny. Jam experiencing stomach discomfort and feeling sick.





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Hi my daughter is coming up to her 2nd birthday but for the last 12 month or little more she has a problem that keeps coming and going every week or so where she has a sandy grit in her poo, every time this occurs it is always a dark orange sort of colour an has a strong smell to it, it also leaves her sore! More some times than others, at times leaving g blood spots where it has burnt some much. A stool sample was sent off and came back normal. I am new waiting on her to have one of these episodes again so the GP can look at it herself. Recently my daughter has been off food a little having temperature on and off and on and off with pains in her tummy. I am worried this might be linked? I'm thinking there may be a blockage somewhere in her digestive system as a lot of the time she is I'm pain with her tummy after meals but not all the time. I have her waking in the night as well at the moment and very clingy witch is so not like her. GP asked if she has ever had reflux at all and yes she had it as a baby, she was diagnosed with floppy larynx at 1 week old, not camera down her throat or no operation where taken as they felt she was ganging enough weight but I did have problems with her chocking on soft things like bananas and heaving on yogurts up to the age of 16 months, I don't know if this from a newborn is linked with her tummy pain and bowel movement just something GP mentioned. I'm concerned for my daughter and have lost faith in the local GP's. What is happening is not normal and has gone on long enough yet no tests been done just 1 stool sample, please help. Thanks





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I'm 16 and I have stomach problems... I feel like I'm sick): I wanna throw up that's how bad the feeling is. The feeling isn't even a "time to use it" either I just know its been happening awhile it started with me jus being bad constapaided so I got fiber bars and than I was broke and couldn't buy none and all my problems came back again the pains are by my uterus ? All around there.. a couple days ago I had some sort of diarrhea it was reddish brown ? And also before that I had like mucus ?? And my poop was clear it was very werid my mom complains a lot and I know if I ask to go to the doctor she jus gonna be mad. Can anyone plz help me ? And if you think its serious to go to the doctor I will defintaly make my mom take me





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I would go see the doctor by your self or go with a friend.It might just be lady problems they get every month or something else. Speak to another girl or lady that you know if your are worried about your mum not understanding. If you get along with your dad ok ,you could ask him .Most Men know more about woman then most girls think.And most dads will want to look after their daughters and keep them healthy & safe.

I got poo that was very soft from my vitamin tablets. they were they only thing that had changed so I stopped taking them and hey presto back to normal again





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i want to make bodybuilder but when ever i take weight gainer powder then starts many changes in my stool like after take powder my stool comes very soft and in very small pices





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I've been suffering with Yellow loose stools now for a couple of months,I can go to the toliet 4/5times a day. I have bad stomach pains also. Can anybody help???





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I went on holiday recently and my poo was yellow the whole week we were there,And now it's gone yellow again, I've been back 3 weeks now I'm getting conserned now Iwent to my Dr and she said it was due to the change in atmostpher and the heat ect!!! But now im not so sure. What should i do??

I have had a problem with my motions the last few weeks... Sometimes my motions are normal, sometimes normal to start and then soft, sometimes soft. I only go once per day and no other problems. Is this ok?





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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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