Your bowel movements can offer important insight into your health. While it may not be your first instinct to look into the toilet, but color, smell, and frequency can tell a lot about what’s going on inside of you.
A normal bowel movement is relatively soft but dense, and can be of shade of brown or green.
Discoloration of the stool, blood in the stool, or diarrhea often indicate the presence of viruses or bacteria.
Dr. Gabriel Neal from Texas A&M College of Medicine explained, “If an infection is in the lower intestines or colon, then the blood in your stool is going to be red. If you find black blood, then the blood has oxidized and is from higher up in your digestive tract, such as the stomach or upper intestines.”
White stools can be an indication of problems with your gallbladder, so you should see your doctor right away.
“If you’re having bowel movements three times per week or less, then that is the common definition of constipation. On the other side, more than six times per day for adults is too much,” Dr. Neal continued.
Additionally, sudden changes in bowel movements – changes in frequency or form – can signal a serious underlying condition that should be discussed and investigated with your doctor.
Dr. Neal added, “If bowel movements hurt, are frequently strained, or just look or feel different, then these problems should be addressed.”
You may not feel comfortable discussing your bowel movements with your doctor, but your bathroom habits can give them plenty of information, so it’s important that you bring this up.
Dr. Neal concluded, “Bowel movements are natural and will happen throughout your entire life. It’s important to have an open discussion with your physician to make sure your digestive system is working most efficiently.”