The Scoop on Poop

I wonder why children have such a fascination with their poop. They like to talk about it, they like to show it to anyone who will look including parents and siblings. Whether it floats or sinks, is green or brown, thick or thin, they have to let you know what’s up.

I’m not sure at what age this no longer become socially acceptable to talk about your poop out loud. Even my 10-year-old calls me into the bathroom from time to time to show me her poop. Maybe this isn’t a normal thing and it’s just my family that does this? If you’ve ever had a child that has had issues with constipation, then you more than likely have seen your fair share of poops and have requested to see it on the daily. Gross, I know.

Regardless of when we stop talking about it as children and grown-ups, we all need to ensure that we’re having a look at our “bowel movements” as an indicator of what’s happening inside of us. Good or bad, we need to see in order to know when it may be time to either change something in our diets or seek medical attention.

Poop, (aka stool or feces) is a normal part of the digestive process. Poop is made up of waste products that are being eliminated from the body. It may include undigested food particles, bacteria, salts, and other substances. Poop can vary in its color, texture, amount, and smell. Differences are fairly normal and most times you see changes (including on the colour chart below) they usually resolve in a day or two. However, some changes in poop indicate a more serious condition.

So… what is “normal”, healthy poop?  

Well to start, it should not be very difficult or painful to pass. It should be brown (medium to dark), have a soft to firm consistency and come out in one piece or a few pieces. If you there is blood in your stool get medical attention right away.Most people go once per day, some twice – some even more or less. However, it is suggested that, at minimum, you should go at least 3 times per week.

What colours can and should poop be? Other than brown, there are a whole array of colours your poop can be! Here’s an easy chart to see what colour means what and why it may be happening…

 

Colour of Poop Possible Concerning Reason as to Why? Other less concerning reasons as to Why?
Black Gastrointestinal Bleeding Iron Supplements, black licorice, bismuth medication
White or Gray Liver or Gallbladder Issues Anti-diarrhea medication may cause this.
Green Too much bile and not enough bilirubin. Spinach, kale, or other green foods.
Red Gastrointestinal Bleeding Hemorrhoids or after eating beets, red berries or tomato juice.
Orange Blocked bile ducts Rifampin Antibiotic can cause orange poop or eating orange foods rich in beta-carotene – carrots, sweet potatoes
Yellow Too much fat – possible absorption issues or difficulty producing bile.

Most people will experience variations in color at some time. Usually, this is because of diet or some other minor cause. However, anyone who experiences changes in poop color that last for two or more weeks or has red or black poop, should see their doctor.

The point of all this all is not just to say the word poop 17 times in one blog (believe it or not!). We all need to monitor any changes in the smell, firmness, frequency, or color of our own poop as it can indicate if there is a problem. Don’t be scared or embarrassed – check out your poop (18!) daily!

 

 

 

 

 


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