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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.

I have had bowel problems for the past 4-6 years now and suffered badly from constipation. I always have pain or iritation in my bottom and pain in my left side where I'm told my bowel movements get 'stuck' I eat everything I should but still it happens and I have meet found out why. It has become a problem and I have done diet changes as asked for years but it doesn't help the situation I also suffer bloating a hell of a lot. And I have become a very irritated and down person.





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Hi for 6 months now I have had type 6 stool. I have been to the GP and he tested my stool and blood which appeared normal. Before this I would go every am with no problems. No I can go for 3 days without going and when I do go i feel like i haven't emptied properly. I also have to clean the pan every time i go. Other times it can come out like water and i didn't even know until i wiped. I have also had really foul smelling wind which i never had in the past. This can be quite painful and really embarrassing. My GP gave me sachets to try but they don't seem to have changed anything. He said it is a life changing bowl habit and he doesn't know the reason why. Can somebody please help cause i am getting worried now that this isn't going back to normal.





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Hi am 43 years old and I've constantly got the runs I get really bad tummy pains and also shooting pains up my back passage. Is this anything to worry about





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Hi I changed my diet and I eat a lot of fiber and protein no and the texture feels diffrent but now I believe it's blood in my stool and when I wipe what could this be





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I have been taking 4 pro plus a day to try and loose weight ... I haven't lost any weight. I also take a cheap slimming herbal pill x 3 to 6 a day esp if I've had a couple of meals. ... My poos have been fine ... On Monday I decided I should stop these pills and try a healthier way to diet ... I joined slimming world after being on these tablets since last sept ... Any way I've been following the 3 meal diet and started eating plenty of fruit ... Tues I was ok ... Weds I was awfully sick and had really bad diahorria ... Been feeling cold with flu symptom s and basically craving for sweets ... I managed to get bck on track fri ... Had a dull ache down my left leg ... Had a small shush lamb kebab about 10 pm last night and only drank pomegranate juice watered down .... Had a dry mouth all night and had to wee 3 times ... Needed a poo this am and was shocked to wipe and see it was black .... Eeeeeek .....





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Im 24 and been suffering from very loose bowel for around 8 months. Had blood test done. And doctor said everything has come back fine. Went back to doctors and he gave me a tablet to stop me pooing for 15 days. I sometimes go to toilet twice a day and sometimes could be up to 6 times a day. I have tried bot eating certain things and tried figuring out what it could be. I get really bad stomach pains and within seconds i have to go. This is sometimes straight after food or can be up to a few hours. My poo starts solid then turns to water with in seconds. I thought it could be ibs but doctor hasnt even considered this do i need to get a second opinion. I cant go out for meals. And struggle having a home cooked meal.





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Yes get another opinion, you may have inflammatory bowel disease which can get worse if left untreated.

Yes get another opinion, you may have inflammatory bowel disease which can get worse if left untreated.

Yes get another opinion, you may have inflammatory bowel disease which can get worse if left untreated.

Have you had food allergy test done? Most doctors do not pursue this avenue...but if you have insurance maybe you can be referred to an allergist. I found that I was intolerant to many foods from blueberries to almonds to gluten...but it helped me feel much better.

i been going poo alot more sometime i cant sleep and some times got to run to toilet or i go about 3 or 4 times in a hour been like this on and off 4 few months now please help having hair loss with red spots on scalp and ringing in right ear all the time cant cope no more my scalp been playing me up over year doctor not doing anythink up all nite worried





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try wheat/barley/gluten free diet. helped my tum and a scalp condition.

try wheat/barley/gluten free diet. helped my tum and a scalp condition.

Am having different condition and it never ever happened to me. It's now more than 6 days as am having dark green colour little blackish poo but doesn't have any difference in shape and no pain. But now from yesterday am having light pain in my stomach and a little alsar near the place as well. Does this mean anything please advice me soon





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Hello, since the birth of my first child 17 years ago I have suffered from constipation, there was a diagnosis early on as colitis... this was deemed away a few years ago. Last year I was severely constipated for 12 weeks (as in i passed 1 bm) when i went to the doctor it turned out i had thyroid problems. Once taking medication i was quite regular having a bm at least 3 times a week. In the past four weeks I have been having a bm at least once a day... (they are soft, 1 inch thick with large and small black specks in it) I have a pain that shifts from lower back right hand side, to the front lower abdominal pain. I am going to the GP again (I seem to be there regularly since passing 40!) ANYONE got any ideas as to whats happening





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i recently found out i have thread worms and i have taken a tablet. but also my poo is green and very hard to push out it is very hard i am very worried please help!!!!!!





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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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