Alarming Health Issues Your Poop Can Reveal

Are you paying attention to your poop? If you aren’t already, it’s time to change that. It turns out the look, consistency, and even the smell of your stools say a lot about the condition of your body. Are you drinking enough water? Eating enough fiber? Do you have a hidden disease you might not otherwise recognize? Here’s what your poop may be trying to warn you about.

You’re in poor gut health

Poop illustrations with facial expressions on a yellow background.

Time to start asking yourself the tough questions. | Bobmadbob/iStock/Getty Images

The health of your gut says a lot about your disease risk. When there’s an imbalance of bacteria in your gut, your whole digestive system suffers the consequences. The speed at which things move through your digestive tract tells you how well you are or aren’t digesting your food — and your poop reflects that information directly. How often you poop, and its consistency, matters.

You’re not eating enough fiber

Fruit salad, apples, and oatmeal on a wooden table.

Get your fiber on. | Artisteer/iStock/Getty Images

If you aren’t getting enough fiber in your diet, your poop will tell you so. You won’t poop as often as you should, and/or your stools will be difficult to pass. Dietary fiber promotes digestive health. It helps keep your poop the soft yet firm consistency it needs to be to pass easily through your digestive tract. SF Gate also notes fiber plays an important role in weight control and maintaining cholesterol.

You have an irritable bowel disease

A man holding his gut in front of a wall.

The signs you should watch out for. |

Intestinal inflammation hurts — and its signs are hard to miss. According to the NIDDK, symptoms like white-colored mucus in stools, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea could indicate you have irritable bowel syndrome. If you’re noticing blood in your stools, with accompanying abdominal pain and overall fatigue, you could have Crohn’s disease.

You have celiac disease

A woman holds her stomach while sitting at a bench.

Your doctor can help you figure out your best options. | Champja/iStock/Getty Image

The Celiac Disease Foundation says people with this condition often present with chronic diarrhea and pale or fatty-looking stools after eating certain foods, before they’re officially diagnosed. Celiac disease occurs when the body produces an immune response to gluten, a type of protein found in wheat, barley, and rye — and foods made with these ingredients. Avoiding gluten can clear up these and many other symptoms.

You have an infection

A man in a robe holds his stomach with both hands.

Try to get any painful symptoms checked out ASAP. |

If you’ve had diarrhea for more than three days, you could have an infection called clostridium difficile, or C. diff — a common infection that develops after extended use of antibiotics. According to Mayo Clinic, C. diff can cause diarrhea and abdominal cramping. In more severe cases, you may notice blood or pus in your stools. Washing your hands can effectively prevent this bacterial infection, but avoiding unnecessary antibiotic use also decreases your risk.

You’re dehydrated

Young woman drinking water.

Dehydration can lead to digestive issues. | Fizkes/iStock/Getty Images

Dehydration manifests in a number of physical and psychological ways — none of them pleasant. However, your bowel movements (or lack thereof) could be a major indicator you’re not drinking enough water. WebMD says dehydration is one of the most common causes of dehydration. While fiber is an important consideration when dealing with constipation, it’s also important to drink plenty of fluids to help get things moving through your digestive tract.

What does healthy poop look like?

Closeup photo of woman sitting on toilet and using toilet paper.

Some things might be perfectly normal. | Artfoliophoto/iStock/Getty Images

According to Healthline, healthy “normal” poop usually appears log-shaped and brown, and can be soft to firm in terms of consistency. The average, healthy person poops anywhere from three times per day to every other day. Sudden changes in frequency, consistency, and color might indicate something you’ve eaten isn’t agreeing with you — or there’s an underlying health issue. If your poop smells, that’s also normal. Bacteria tend to give off unpleasant-smelling gasses when expelled from your body.

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