What is the Mucus in your Stool?
Mucus is a thick substance with a jelly-like appearance which is fairly common within the body including the stools. It is primarily used to protect and to lubricate the delicate tissues and organs ad reduce damage caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses and stomach acid. However, when large amounts are present in the stools it may be a warning sign indicative of a serious underlying condition.
When your body is properly healthy, you are unlikely to notice mucus as it is typically clear. However, viruses like influenza or the common cold and other illnesses can lead to an increase in mucus production within the sinuses but it is rarely present in the stools.
If you have noticed that your stools contain a large amount of mucus, you should see the doctor so as they can make a proper diagnosis which will treat any underlying health problem and free your stools of mucus.
When is the Mucus in your Stools Not Normal?
Large amounts of visible mucus in the stools is definitely not normal and is possibly a sign that something is wrong. Just being able to see mucus in the stools means your levels are higher than they should be and it is definitely worth monitoring to see if it changes.
Mucus in the stools does not always mean there is a serious health issue but it is often accompanied by tell-tale symptoms which can indicate a serious health issue. Symptoms that sometimes come with stool mucus include:
- Blood in the stool
- Abdominal bloating
- Abdominal pains and cramps
- Major changes in your bowel movements
The Cause of Mucus in Stools
Excessive amounts of mucus in your stools might indicate a gastrointestinal complaint. A layer of intestinal mucus protects the body from both food particles and pathogens in the intestinal tract.
When this mucus layer is broken down by inflammatory processes, mucus can get excreted from the body in your stool which allows harmful pathogens inside the intestines to aces the body more easily. This obviously increases the risk of illness.
Other conditions that may cause the production of excess mucus are constipation and dehydration which can cause the sudden appearance of mucus.
An increase in the level of mucus may also be related to an inflammatory bowel condition which will require medical treatment. These conditions include Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and cystic fibrosis. Other conditions that may cause excess mucus are intestinal infections, parasites, malabsorption, anal fissures and cancer.
Treatment for Stool Mucus
This will depend on the underlying cause of your mucus and once your doctor has made a diagnosis he will recommend the best course of treatment.
Lifestyle changes can be very effective for many people and include:
- Eating diets rich in natural probiotics which help improve the balance of the gut’s microflora. Probiotic supplements may also be prescribed.
- Eating naturally anti-inflammatory food.
- Increasing the amount of fluid that you drink.
- Making sure that you get a good balance of dietary and prebiotic fiber, fat and carbohydrate.
As well as lifestyle changes, there are prescription medications that may be prescribed for chronic bowel conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Stool Color Changes
Under normal circumstances, the color of stools is some sort of a brown color which varies from person to person. When the color of stools changes, it can cause concern to parents and the person themselves.
Bilirubin present in bile is mostly responsible for the color of stools and the concentration of bilirubin means that color can vary from very light yellow to a near black color. You may also be able to link the color of your stool with something that you have eaten.
When stools change color from one bowel movement to another, there is no real cause for alarm but certain color changes may indicate a more serious underlying condition.
Stool Color Meanings
When a stool passes through your intestine too quickly it may not have the necessary amount of time for bile to get properly broken down and digested to produce the normal brown colored stools. Under normal circumstances bile is altered chemically inside the intestines to a greenish brown hue.
It then takes some time for the bile to be altered fully before changing to brown again. If this process is shortened and the stool moves through the tract too quickly as in the case of diarrhea, the stool will keep its green color.
Bear in mind that green stools may also be caused by consuming a diet which is rich in leafy green veg like spinach.
Other potential causes of green stools that are nothing to fret about are chlorophyll and algae supplements. Multivitamins with a high iron content and excessive consumption of refined sugar can also be a cause.
Breastfed babies will often have green colored stools as a result of the colostrum content in breast milk.
If you have noticed that your stools are yellow, foul smelling and greasy in appearance, there are numerous potential underlying causes. Yellow stools are often caused by the inability of the intestine to properly absorb and digest fat.
This may be the result of an intestinal disease like cystic fibrosis or celiac disease or because the pancreas cannot produce enough digestive enzymes which affects people with pancreatitis cancer of the pancreas. Yellow stools can also be caused when insufficient bile is delivered into the intestine.
Black stools may be a cause for concern as they can be the result of bleeding into the gastrointestinal tract. This bleeding usually comes from the upper gastrointestinal tract including the stomach, esophagus and duodenum.
When this occurs, the digestive enzymes break down the red blood cells which turns the feces black, sticky and very foul smelling. Black sticky stools should be taken seriously as intestinal bleeding is a serious medical condition.
Certain diets including very low carb diets like the Atkins diet are also known to produce very dark colored stools so if you have recently started a low carb diet, there is no cause for alarm.
Bright Red Stools
Bright red stools can be scary especially for a parent. However, there is usually no cause for alarm.
In young children, bright red stools are usually caused by anal fissures or a tear in the skin which surrounds the anus.
In adults, bright red stools are most often caused by bleeding as a result of hemorrhoids.
There are however a few more serious potential causes of red stools including:
- Inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
- Intestinal infections
- Diverticular bleeding
- Bleeding from the upper GI tract can also cause red stools when there was not sufficient time for the digestion of red blood cells which would otherwise turn them black.
- Certain rich red foods like beets may also cause red stools.
White colored stools are a lot less common and may occur as a result of pancreatitis or cancer of the pancreas which blocks the delivery of bile from the ducts. Insufficient bile means the stool will lose its normal brown color leaving it pale or white.