We live in a day and age where it’s not generally acceptable to mention your bowel activity in polite company. Strangely, even in the doctor/ patient relationship, this subject may be skimmed over with discomfort on everyone’s part in exploring what is really going on.
Thus, many people suffer in silence about their bad digestion. It doesn’t have to be this way though. Everyone deserves to understand that there are visual cues that we can see for ourselves that our intestinal health may, or may not, be at risk in some way.
A Bristol Royal Infirmary in Bristol, England, came up with a graphic, yet discreet way for physicians and patients to discuss the truth about their bowel patterns. Through the use of a chart that gives visuals of 7 various appearances of a stool with and adjacent description not only of the stool itself but of the patient’s experience in passing it, patients can now know more about whether their poop appears to be normal or not.
In this way, reporting to your doctor that number 6 (or whatever) fits you, you have been spared the embarrassment of describing the details, but the doctor, hearing the number 6 mentioned, will know precisely what those details are.
Type 1 can indicate that the normal healthy bacteria in the stool are missing. The lumps are hard and painful to pass. This can often happen with people after taking antibiotics or for people who don’t eat enough fiber.
Type 2 is indicative of constipation and is dangerous because the bowel movement is near or exceeds the size of the anal canal. This usual indicates that the stool has been in the colon for a long period of time.
This is a less severe form of constipation where the stool isn’t quite as large as in type 2 but straining still happens.
Type 4 is normal for someone that goes once per day.
Type 5 is considered ideal and usually indicates that someone goes two to three times per day typically after meals.
Type 6 is subnormal. These can be a bit messy and is often accompanied by an increase in urgency. This can suggest several disorders or it can be normal sometimes.
Type 7 is diarrhea and is not normal. It should be borne in mind, however, that diarrhea (#7) is also a signal of a problem, sometimes as minor as a 24 hour intestinal flu but may also be liquid stool developing and passing around a blockage due to tumor, impaction, or latent constipation.
In a healthy intestine, bowel movements would be a non-event in terms of the person’s experience. Pain or straining signal more than simple discomfort, but may be an indication of impacted stool that has remained in the colon for weeks or may even be an indication of a colo-rectal tumor or other serious condition.
If you experience conscious awareness of straining, pain, pressure and of course bleeding, you should contact a physician at once.
Experts also advise against liberal use of various harsh laxatives, and in some instances, where oversized stools are already occurring, the fiber-based laxatives, designed to create better bulk may exaggerate and aggravate an already present problem with very unfortunate outcomes. Thus it is encouraged to seek improvement through nutrition, drinking greater quantities of water, and with sufficient medical advisement.