In every country and each city, there are probably hundreds to thousands of people pooping at this very moment! It’s normal and everyone has to do it at some point. You’ve probably snuck a peek at your stool before flushing, but do you know what it’s really supposed to look like? There are many different types of poop that you could see, and each type can tell you something about your body and digestive system.
What Is Poop Made Of?
Poop is the elimination of waste matter after the digestion of food. It is made up of about 75% of water; the rest of it contains undigested food, bacteria, protein, waste material from food, cellular linings, fats, salts, and substances released from the liver and intestines.
Other terms for poop include: feces, stool, ordure, turd, excrement, doo-doo, shit (please, “excuse my French”), and many more; the list is long!
Animal poop is also called: dung, droppings, guano (fertilizer), and manure (fertilizer).
What Does Healthy Poop Look Like?
There are different types of poop that range in shape, color, size, and smell. The ideal poop should be a smooth and soft sausage shape, brown, a good size, and of course, smell unpleasant but not awful. Your stool should also pass with ease and only take a few minutes, not lasting much longer than ten minutes. The average person poops anywhere from three times per day to every other day.
Here is some more information on healthy poop.
Developed at the Bristol Royal Infirmary in 1997, the Bristol stool scale classifies poop into 7 categories. It is used as a visual guide for patients and doctors to discuss the sensitive topic of bowel movements.
It is also known as the Bristol stool chart (BSC) and Bristol stool form scale (BSF scale)
Throughout the various shapes and consistencies, type 3 and type 4 stool is normal. For the other types, here are the Bristol stool chart meanings:
Appearance: Individual and hard lumps like nuggets.
Reason: Severe constipation
Appearance: Sausage or log-shaped with lumps
Appearance: Sausage or log-shaped with cracks on the surface
Reason: Normal poop
Appearance: A smooth and soft sausage shape, also like a snake.
Reason: Normal poop
Appearance: Similar to type 1, these are separate nugget shapes but are soft with clear edges.
Reason: Light diarrhea and lack of fiber
Appearance: A mushy stool that’s fluffy with ragged edges.
Reason: Mild diarrhea
Appearance: Entirely liquid with no solid pieces.
Reason: Severe diarrhea
What Is Constipation Caused By?
Constipation is the difficulty or infrequency of passing bowel movements. The stool associated with this is usually hard and dry. Common causes of constipation are dehydration, lack of fiber, and medications such as antacids and opioids. It can also be a result of a pelvic floor disorder, diabetes, celiac disease, or colon cancer.
If there urgent medical intervention is not required, there are different treatments for constipation. These include: increasing water and fiber intake, fiber supplements, laxatives, and exercise.
What Are The Causes Of Diarrhea?
Diarrhea is defined as 3 or more loose and watery bowel movements in one day. It can be the result of having a liquid diet, a food intolerance, laxatives, or even based on your emotional state (stress or anxiety). Another major indicator of this condition is if you have to wipe a lot after pooping.
Loose poop is also a condition of irritable bowel syndrome, gastroenteritis, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease. Diarrhea that lasts multiple days can cause dehydration.
To combat diarrhea, you can take antidiarrheals and follow the “BRAT” diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast). Also drinking plenty of fluids will be important to replace what is lost.
Normal and healthy poop will be various shades of brown. If it’s not, you might be curious as to why. The color can be affected based on the foods that you eat and how bile breaks it down, but can also be a result of medical conditions.
For more detailed information and a poop color chart, click here.
Red poop can be caused by eating foods with red dye or red foods such as beets or tomato juice. It can also be caused by medical issues such as hemorrhoids or bleeding.
Yellow Poop (Or Orange)
Foods like turmeric and carrots cause yellow poop; it can also be caused by foods with too much fat. The cause of orange or yellow stool can also mean a gallbladder disorder, celiac disease, excess stress, and more.
An excess of green vegetables can cause your poop to be green. It can also happen when food passed through quickly (diarrhea) without digesting properly.
Licorice and Pepto-Bismol are two common causes of dark poop. It can also mean you have intestinal bleeding.
Dark Brown Poop to Light Brown
Brown-colored poop is normal and varies from light to dark depending on what you eat.
Light, Clay Colored Poop
Antidiarrheals and certain medications can cause your poop to be clay-colored. This grey poop can also signal gallstones or a liver problem.
Fecal mass is affected by factors such as body weight, total food intake, and diet .
On average, your the length of your poop should be four to eight inches long and one to two inches in diameter.
Although your poop shouldn’t smell like roses, the scent should not be foul. If your stool is worse than an unpleasant smell, it can be a cause for concern. However, it odor can also be changed based on the foods that you eat. For example, an excess of sulfur-rich foods such as garlic, eggs, legumes, and cruciferous vegetables will have you dropping a “stink bomb.”
The cause of putrid or foul poop can also be celiac disease, antibiotics, short bowel syndrome, infection, crohn’s disease, imbalanced intestinal flora, lactose intolerance or milk allergy.
Though there are many different types of stool, your poop should:
- Be type 3 or 4. Smooth and firm
- A shade of brown
- About 4 to 8 inches
- Unpleasant, but not putrid smelling
- Take 1 to 10 minutes to pass
What’s important is that it is normal for you, and that you are aware of any irregularities.
When Should You Go To The Doctor For Pooping?
It may be time to seek the attention of a healthcare professional when you have concerns about your bowel movements. You know your body and what is typical habits for you in the bathroom.
It can be an immediate cause for concern if you are feeling pain or discomfort, see blood, or have irregular stool that lasts a long time.
Remember: Everyone poops, don’t be embarrassed if you have questions about your own.