Bowel Habits: What’s Common vs. What’s Normal When It Comes to #2

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Bowel habits aren’t something most of us talk about every day, but chances are you’ve wondered at some point in time if everything is normal with your bowel habits. This post takes a look at some of the #1 questions when it comes to going #2. Additionally, medical thermography is an incredibly insightful tool when it comes to assisting in discovery of gastrointestinal, digestive, and bowel related concerns. We can help with that! Give us a call or schedule a free consult today!

Bowel Habits: How Often Should I Have a Bowel Movement?

Depending on who you ask or where you find your research, the answer to this question will vary, but ideally, your bowel habits should include one to three bowel movements per day. Less than this may indicate your diet is too low in fiber.

Having a bowel movement every other day is fairly common, and may be normal, if you’re comfortable and your abdomen isn’t painful, and if this is consistent for you. Day to day consistency in bowel movements is valuable information, helping you to know what is “normal” for your own body and clueing you in to when something is possibly “off.”

That being said, you’ll also find research suggesting the idea that bowel habits as infrequently as every 2-3 days is normal. While this may be common for some people, keep in mind common isn’t always normal. Bowel movements this infrequent may indicate an underlying health issue related to nutrient absorption, dietary insufficiencies,  or inadequate gut health.  

Should I Have a Bowel Movement Every Time I Eat?

Pooping after every single meal doesn’t necessarily indicate healthy bowel habits, and in some cases, can indicate the inability to absorb nutrients efficiently and effectively. This frequency could be your body’s “normal,” but if you find yourself needing to rush to the bathroom after every meal and your stools don’t look normal (more on that in a minute), it’s worth a visit to your practitioner. 

If you’re having less than 3 bowel movements per week, minimum, this indicates constipation. It’s important to investigate and remedy this, for your overall health. Ready to get started? Insight’s Traditional Naturopath, Erin, can help. Call us today at (405)306-6340.

What Does It Mean When My Bowel Movement Floats?

What about bowel habits when it comes to floating or sinking? Which is better? What does it mean if your bowel movement floats?

Typically, a floating stool is indicative of something you ate, and nothing to be concerned about. Common causes of floating stools include:

  • Diets high in insoluble fiber
  • Foods that cause gas
  • Anxiety
  • Malabsorption of nutrients
  • High fat content
  • Certain medications

Dietary issues are often easy to correct, but some other causes of floating stools can be a bit more concerning.

Anxiety can contribute to floating stools as in a particularly anxious situation you may find yourself swallowing more air. If you suffer from chronic or debilitating anxiety, speaking with a healthcare professional can be helpful.

Malabsorption of nutrients is concerning as your body isn’t processing nutrients properly. Your stool may appear to be oily or have oil around it. High fat content in the stool can be another indication of malabsorption, or could also be the result of chronic pancreatitis. All of the above are good reasons to consult with your healthcare provider.

Bowel Habits: Why Is My Bowel Movement Hard?

Small, dry, or hard stools (or the absence of a bowel movement at all) can indicate constipation. Take a look at some of the most frequent concerns/questions when it comes to bowel movement solidity (or lack thereof). And for the visual learners out there, the Bristol Stool Chart is a great resource to understand!

My Poop Looks Like Small Balls, Is That Normal?

Stool made up of small, hard, balls indicates it has likely been in the colon for a longer period of time than is ideal. This is a sign of constipation. Often, when stool is this consistency, it is difficult to move out of the body and you may find yourself having bowel movements much less frequently than usual. It may feel like even when you DO have a bowel movement, you aren’t able to completely pass everything. 

If this happens consistently, see your healthcare practitioner. Common causes of this type of stool include lack of fat, fiber, or water in the diet, as well as stress, fear, or anxiety in the body. Travel can sometimes bring about constipation, as can pain relievers, antibiotics, antidepressants, and some other medications. 

My Poop Is Liquid, Is That Normal?

Liquid-like stools indicate food moving too quickly through your digestive tract. Sometimes, this type of bowel movement comes on urgently. Common culprits bringing on sudden and/or liquidy stools include viruses, bacteria, parasites, food poisoning, medications or supplements, or food sensitivities. 

Consistently watery or liquid stools, especially in the presence of other symptoms, warrant a visit to your healthcare provider.

In addition to the above mentioned causes, stress, worry, fear, or anxiety can contribute to liquid-like bowel movements, as can certain medications.

What if I Can’t Wipe Clean After a Bowel Movement?

The ideal bowel movement won’t be too hard or too liquid, and will leave nothing on the toilet paper when you wipe. Sounds ideal, right? But what if you can’t wipe clean after a bowel movement? 

There are several health conditions that can make wiping more difficult or affect your ability to feel completely clean after a bowel movement. 

While there may be times you have to wipe a little more than usual, if wiping a lot is common for you, there may be something else worth investigating. These could include:

  • Anal abscesses or fistulas
  • Anal skin tags
  • Bowel leakage/fecal incontinence
  • Hemorrhoids

What Does Mucus in My Bowel Movement Mean?

Stool naturally contains a small amount of mucus from the intestines, designed to keep the lining of your colon lubricated. However, if you notice an increased amount of mucus in your stool and it’s occurring regularly or accompanied with bleeding or another change in bowel habits, you should consult your healthcare practitioner.

Large amounts of mucus in the stool typically are associated with diarrhea and can be caused by intestinal infections. Sometimes mucus can indicate underlying diseases including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and certain cancers.

Is Blood in Stool Normal? 

Blood in the stool is never normal. While it may be caused by common conditions such as hemorrhoids, it can also be your body telling you something else is going on. More serious concerns of blood in the stool include Crohn’s disease, polyps, or colorectal cancer. Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing blood in your bowel movements.

Why Is My Bowel Movement Green?

Green is the most common stool color change. Green poop may indicate you’ve been eating more green vegetables, or that you’ve eaten green, blue, or purple food coloring. Certain medical conditions that lead to diarrhea or loose stools can also cause your stools to be green.

Brown is the normal color of stool, but occasional green stools may fall within the range of normal for you. If you have ongoing green (or any other color aside from brown) stool, see your healthcare provider, especially if you’re experiencing other symptoms including fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or pain.

Why Is My Poop Yellow? 

Yellow stool can be indicative of a number of health concerns, from liver, gallbladder, or pancreas disorders to celiac disease to infections, parasites, stress, or diet. 

Typically, stool is brownish in color, due to the digestion of bile salts made in the liver. If your liver isn’t producing enough bile, your stool may be yellow.  Because liver disease can interfere with bile salt production and blocked bile ducts can prevent bile salts from reaching the intestines, yellow stools are often trying to tell you something is up with your body.

If accompanied with other symptoms including but not limited to fever or jaundice, yellow stools are a reason to consult your healthcare provider.

Why Is My Poop Black?

Black stool is understandably an alarming sight. While black stool isn’t entirely normal, it is most typically caused by foods you’ve eaten. Black foods or iron supplements are the usual culprits, but sometimes food isn’t the cause. If you know you haven’t eaten a bunch of Oreos lately, and you don’t take iron supplements, something else could be going on.

The most common condition causing black bowel movements is a bleeding ulcer. Black stools often indicate a problem in the upper digestive tract. If bleeding is involved, by the time stools from the upper digestive tract exit the body, any blood contained is older and no longer red (but black instead). 

Blood in stool is easy to detect through a stool test at your practitioner’s office or even at home. If you suspect blood in your stool, especially with other symptoms including pain, vomiting, or diarrhea, you should see your doctor immediately.

Is White Poop Normal?

Like yellow stool, a lack of bile causes white or clay-like stools and can indicate an underlying (and often serious) problem.

Bile is produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder, and is the source of stool’s typical brown color. If the liver isn’t producing bile or if bile is prevented from leaving the liver, stool will be lighter in color, and yes, can sometimes be white.

The problem is often caused by a blocked bile duct, which prevents bile from entering the small intestine. A blocked duct can also cause you to experience abdominal pain, fever, nausea, itching, and jaundice. 

Liver diseases, including hepatitis and cirrhosis, can cause white stools. A few medications can contribute to white stools, as well.

If you notice white or clay-colored stools, you should consult your doctor immediately.

If you’re having any bowel habit concerns, it is important to investigate and remedy this, for your overall health. Whether you have concerns yet or not, thermography is a pain free, radiation free imaging option that can take a look at your body and equip you with knowledge of where your body may need some extra attention.

If you want help getting started on normalizing your bowel habits, the team at Insight can help. With three Certified Thermographers and our in house Traditional Naturopath, Erin, we would love to assist you on your health journey. Call us today at (405)306-6340. We can’t wait to hear from you soon!

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