Posted on Aug 11, 2020, 4 p.m.
Most people really don’t give much attention to what they deposit in the toilet, but with its variety of shapes, smells, and shades your excrement can be a window into your digestive health. Those with Crohn’s disease in particular have to keep a close watch on their toilet deposits for possible signs of changes in disease activity.
Researchers have been investigating what feces can reveal about the bacteria living inside the gut, and how it may be affecting many aspects of mental and physical well being: Brain, Behavior, and Immunity published a report suggesting that gut microbiome may play a role in mood disorders, and a report published in Nature suggests that these microbes could even be a factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Most people don’t have the scientific tools required to examine their droppings for bacterial composition at home, but that does not mean that you can’t learn anything from its appearance and the different shades of stool.
Most times poop will be brown, this color comes from bile produced in the liver to help digest food. Excrement that is solid and brown will typically indicate that there is no obvious reason for concern.
Green stool is also within the realm of normal, as this is typically attributed to something that has been consumed such as lots of green, leafy vegetables that are rich in chlorophyll pigments that can easily lend an emerald hue to feces.
Poop that is whitish clay colored could be caused by a lack of bile which might stem from a blockage of the bile ducts. Additionally, there can also be a white mucus on top of normal colored stool which has a whitish coating, this appearance can be normal but it can also be a sign of a Crohn’s flare. It is recommended to alert your doctor when there is mucus in bowel movements, especially if it is more than usual. For those without Crohn’s this white appearance along with abdominal pain, fever or vomiting should be taken seriously and you should call emergency services, but even without the symptoms you still need to alert your doctor.
Yellow feces can also be an indicator of bile shortage which might be related to obstructed bile ducts, but it could mean that the pancreas is not secreting enough enzymes for proper digestion. However, these are not the only possible suggestions, as such it is recommended to alert your doctor.
Although it can be alarming black poop is typically a common and harmless side effect of taking iron tablets, Pepto-Bismol, as well as certain foods and medications. If your stool is solid and dark there is most likely nothing to worry about, but black feces with more liquid and a tarry consistency with a particularly pungent smell can be a sign of bleeding in the gastrointestinal system which may require emergency evaluation with an endoscopy.
Most often bright red, pink, or purple stool results after eating scarlet coloured foods or drinks such as tomato juice or beets, but it could also indicate bleeding. If you have hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or colon polyps a small amount of blood may be from one of those causes, especially if experiencing pain while pooping. However, larger amounts of bleeding should be addressed right away at a hospital for evaluation to identify and treat the source of bleeding. While bloody diarrhea is a hallmark symptom of inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s, you still need to inform your doctor how much blood is present in your excrement.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement