You might have experienced this many times in your life when you go to loo and your poop looks weird and you wonder if its normal and you try to remember your previous day’s meal. You must be aware of the fact that the way your stool looks depends on your dietary habit. But you must be wondering ‘is your stool normal’ ? And what really is normal stool? How does normal stool look like?
First of all what is Normal stool? Look, Listen and Smell Before You Flush
Your stool is about 75 percent water. The rest is a fetid combination of fiber, live and dead bacteria, miscellaneous cells and mucus.1, 2 The characteristics of your stool will tell you a good deal about how happy and healthy your digestive tract is – the color, odor, shape, size, and even the sound it makes when it hits the water and whether it’s a “sinker” or a “floater” are all relevant information.
Below is the chart called the ‘Bristol Stool Chat’ which shows different types of stool.
The ideal stool is generally type 3 or 4, easy to pass without being too watery.
If yours is type 1 or 2, you’re probably constipated.
Types 5, 6, and 7 tend toward diarrhea.
Characterstics of Healthy Stool
1. Medium to light brown
2. Smooth and soft, formed into one long shape and not a bunch of pieces
3. About one to two inches in diameter and up to 18 inches long
4. S-shaped, which comes from the shape of your lower intestine6
5. Quiet and gentle dive into the water…it should fall into the bowl with the slightest little “whoosh” sound – not a loud, wet cannonball splash that leaves your toosh in need of a shower
6. Natural smell, not repulsive (I’m not saying it will smell good)
7. Uniform texture
Characterstics of Unhealthy Stool
1. Stool that is hard to pass, painful, or requires straining
2. Hard lumps and pieces, or mushy and watery, or even pasty and difficult to clean off
3. Narrow, pencil-like or ribbon-like stools: can indicate a bowel obstruction or tumor – or worst case, colon cancer; narrow stools on an infrequent basis are not so concerning, but if they persist, definitely warrant a call to your physician5
4. Black, tarry stools or bright red stools may indicate bleeding in the GI tract; black stools can also come from certain medications, supplements or consuming black licorice; if you have black, tarry stools, it’s best to be evaluated by your healthcare provider
5. White, pale or gray stools may indicate a lack of bile, which may suggest a serious problem (hepatitis, cirrhosis, pancreatic disorders, or possibly a blocked bile duct), so this warrants a call to your physician; antacids may also produce white stool
6. Presence of undigested food (more of a concern if accompanied by diarrhea, weight loss, or other changes in bowel habits)
7. Increased mucus in stool: This can be associated with inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis, or even colon cancer, especially if accompanied by blood or abdominal pain