Nobody likes to talk about doing a poo – but it’s important that it is talked about, so that we know what’s normal and what’s not.
Your poo can say a lot about your overall health.
According to Cancer Research, how often you have a bowel movement can vary from person to person – and can be normal all the same.
For some, this could be having a poo a few times a day, or others having a poo a few times a week.
But as long as you are having regular bowel movements, not having ongoing symptoms of constipation or diarrhoea, and don’t have to strain really hard or use laxatives, you’re all good.
A normal poo should be medium to dark brown, because it contains a pigment called bilirubin, which forms when red blood cells break down.
It should also be pretty strong smelling – as that is the bacteria in the poo emitting gases.
You shouldn’t have any pain when you go to the toilet, and the poo should be soft to firm in texture – with one single piece or a few smaller pieces typically a sign of a healthy bowel.
So, how do you know when there is a problem? And what should you look out for?
Well, you should keep an eye out for any changes. Of course, changes can happen depending on your diet – but for the most part your poo should be fairy consistent.
So if it suddenly changes in smell (hot curry the night before not included), firmness, frequency or colour, that could indicate there is a problem.
But as mentioned, these changes can happen depending on how much you’ve eaten, what you’ve eaten, how much fat is in the food you’ve eaten and how hydrated you are.
If your bowel habits have changed consistently, it’s worth going to see your doctor.
There are many conditions that can cause a change in bowel habits, such as IBS or inflammatory bowel disease – the latter of which is more serious.
IBS is very common, with two in 10 suffering. IBD however only affects 300,000 people in the UK.
If you are having either chronic constipation, or diarrhoea – which can mean totally liquid or a mushy consistency with ragged edges – that might indicate that you have some inflammation somewhere in your digestive tract.
One more serious thing that you should look out for is blood.
Bleeding a little bright red blood is usually not a cause for concern. Of course it’s always important to get checked out, but it’s usually caused by wiping too hard, fissures or hemmorhoids.
It’s dark blood you need to look out for.
If you are seeing dark red blood in the toilet bowl or on the tissue, or if your poo looks black, this could mean you have internal bleeding from your bowels. This would be classed as a medical emergency, so if you do experience this, head to your doctor or your local A&E as soon as possible.
IBS and IBD can both be controlled, IBS more so with diet and over the counter medications and IBD with medications such as steroids, infusions and in some cases surgery.
But don’t just look out for blood – look at the colour of your poo, too.
If your poo is black, or has the appearance of coffee grounds, this could suggest gastrointestinal bleeding.
This may be the same for red coloured poo – though this could also mean hemmorhoids.
Your poo can also be white, grey or pale, which may mean you have an issue with your liver or gallbladder as this colour indicates a lack of bile.
If your poo is yellow, this means you are eating too much fat, and if it’s orange it means you’re eating lots of orange foods. So don’t worry about that.
While a change in your bowel habit may be alarming, it is rarely life-threatening and can be controlled with diet changes, medication or further investigations to see whether you are living with a bowel disease.
If you are looking to have a more healthy-looking poo, there are lots of things you can do, including eating more fibre, drinking more water, reducing stress, not ignoring the urge to go (which can end up constipating you) and not relying on laxatives.
If in doubt, always get checked out – because an odd-looking poo could indicate a problem.
Source: Read Full Article