Here at Dr. Sameer Islam’s office, we like to talk about poop. Have you ever wondered why? It’s because your poop can be a great indicator of what is going on inside and whether or not there is a problem. Determining your “normal” is the first step. Then, paying attention to changes in your bowel habits can provide a good picture of your overall health and help you detect potential issues quickly.
Reasons for Change
There are many reasons that our poop changes, and they can range from minor to serious. Understanding the differences will help you better evaluate what’s coming out and when it might be time to call your doctor.
- Narrow – could be an indication that there is inflammation or blockage in the colon. In general, poop should be wider, around one to two inches in diameter.
- Black or Red – can mean internal bleeding.
- White, Gray, or Yellow – could be a sign of infection, gallbladder, or pancreatic disorder.
- Hard or Mushy – Constipation and diarrhea are common, but left untreated or when continual, they can cause problems like rectal bleeding and dehydration. These can also be signs of more serious issues like irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease. Increased
- Mucus – can be a sign of colitis, especially when accompanied by abdominal pain or bleeding.
- Smelly – Particularly foul-smelling poop can indicate a more serious problem like celiac disease or pancreatitis.
Each person is unique, and “regular” may look different for everyone. Also, many medications and foods can disrupt normal bowel habits. The most important thing to note is that if something changes significantly or persists for more than a couple of days, consult with your doctor to see if something might be wrong.
Keeping Things Regular
There are some things that you can do to help keep yourself healthy and your poop normal. If we’re talking about what comes out, it makes sense that one thing you can do is take care with what you put in! Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fiber will help your digestive system work efficiently. Fiber-rich foods include unprocessed, natural foods like raw fruits and vegetables. Whole grains and legumes are also good sources of fiber. Eating probiotics, which are found in fermented foods, will add good bacteria to your body and help the digestive system function at an optimal level. Some people also benefit from taking a probiotic supplement, so talk to your doctor about this option. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners which are more difficult to digest, and drink a lot of water. Hydration is the best way to ensure that all of this healthy food you’re going to be eating actually gets absorbed by your body. Water will greatly help with issues like stool consistency and constipation. Stress is also linked to digestive issues, so having mechanisms in place to reduce stress will help keep bowels working properly—relaxation, sleep, hobbies, and exercise are great ways to deal with stress and improve your overall health.
If you are concerned about changes make an appointment to talk about poop with Dr. Sameer Islam today. He can help you assess potential issues and make a plan for treatment or lifestyle changes to address them.