It’s important to check your bowels before you flush — they can tell you a lot about your health!
Have you ever looked into the toilet bowl and wondered what the color, shape, or consistency of your stool might mean for your health? It may not be the most pleasant topic, but the truth is that your bowel movements can reveal important information about what’s happening inside your body.
Studies have shown that bowel movements are an important indicator about your health and diet. From how often you “go” to the color and texture of your stool, paying attention to your bowel movements will help you detect potential health issues early on. Some changes in bowel habits may be normal; others may signal an underlying condition that requires medical attention.
1. If Bowel Movements Are Comfortable, It’s a Good Sign
Ideally, bowel movements should be comfortable and easy to pass. If you experience pain, discomfort, or straining during bowel movements, it may indicate an underlying health problem such as constipation or hemorrhoids. Certain medications or dietary factors can also contribute to discomfort during bowel movements.
To prevent uncomfortable bowel movements, stay hydrated, eat a balanced diet rich in fiber, and avoid straining or holding in stool. If you are finding it difficult or painful to make bowel movements frequently, you may want to speak to a doctor.
2. Too Few or Too Many Bowel Movements Can Be Trouble
The frequency of bowel movements varies widely, depending on factors such as diet, exercise, and medication use. A healthy bowel movement frequency is typically once or twice a day.
If you experience too few or too many bowel movements, it may indicate an underlying health problem such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or a thyroid disorder. Pay attention to changes in bowel habits and seek medical attention if you notice any unusual patterns.
3. Floaters Are Normal
Floating stool is usually nothing to worry about and can be a sign that you’re eating a healthy diet rich in fiber. However, if you experience other symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, or changes in bowel habits, it’s important to seek medical attention. Floaters can also be a sign of malabsorption, which can be caused by conditions such as celiac disease or pancreatic insufficiency.
4. Color Matters
The color of your stool can provide important clues about your health. While variations in color are normal, certain hues may indicate an underlying health problem. For example, pale or clay-colored stool may be a sign of a liver or bile duct problem, while black or tarry stool may indicate bleeding in the upper digestive tract. Red or maroon stool can be a sign of bleeding in the lower digestive tract. If you notice any unusual colors in your stool, it’s important to seek medical attention.
Johns Hopkins states that most color changes are not a cause for concern over short periods of time. If you are noticing your stools are a different color for longer periods of time, it may be best to consult your doctor.
5. Blood is Always a Red Flag
If you notice blood in your stool, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. Blood in the stool can be a sign of a serious health problem, such as colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or hemorrhoids. Depending on the severity and location of the bleeding, you may need diagnostic tests such as a colonoscopy or endoscopy.
Bloody stools can originate from a variety of causes and can be caused by minor issues that can pass over time. On the other hand, frequent bloody stools can signify a bigger health problem – don’t delay seeking medical attention if you notice blood in your stool.
Understanding what your bowel movements tell you about your health allows you to take steps to maintain good gut health and prevent serious health problems. Pay attention to the frequency, consistency, and color of your stool; seek medical attention if you notice any unusual changes. With proper care and attention, you can enjoy healthy bowel movements and good overall health.