It’s not commonly known that, when it comes to assessing our health, looking to the toilet is often a good place to start – turning around to look and smell your own feces after spending some time on the toilet will give you a good indication of the state of your health.
The average person generates about five tonnes of stool in his or her lifetime, and again, by looking at the shape, size, colour, and more, a person might be able to learn a lot about their overall health and how their gastrointestinal tract is functioning. Looking at your feces can also provide insights into what diseases you may be carrying.
The Bristol Stool Chart
The Bristol Stool chart, classified as a “medical aid,” groups the characteristics of human feces into seven different categories. It was created by Lewis and Heaton at the University of Bristol and was originally published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology in 1997. It’s also commonly referred to as the “Meyers Scale.”
This chart is used today as an effective tool to evaluate treatments for various diseases within the bowel, and it’s also considered a useful “clinical communication aid.”
Not to say that the chart does not come without criticism – the validity of it has been questioned before – but despite this fact it is still widely used and is believed to be an effective tool by many health professionals.
Here is the chart:
- Medium to light brown
- Smooth and soft, formed into one long shape, not separated into little pieces
- About one to two inches in diameter and up to 18 inches long
- S-shaped, which comes from the shape of your lower intestine
- Quiet and gentle dive into the water, it should fall into the bowl with the slightest little “whoosh” sound, not a loud splash
- Natural smell, not repulsive
- Uniform texture
- Sinks slowly
- Stool that is hard to pass, painful, or requires straining
- Hard lumps and pieces, or mushy and watery, or even pasty and difficult to clean off
- Narrow, pencil-like, or ribbon-like stools: these can indicate a bowel obstruction or tumor – or worst case, colon cancer: narrow stools on an infrequency basis are not so concerning, but if they persist, this definitely warrant a call to your physician
- Black, tarry stools or bright red stools may indicate bleeding in the GI tract; black stools can also come from certain medications, supplements, or consuming black licorice: if you have black, tarry stools, it’s best to be evaluated by your healthcare provider
- White, pale, or gray stools may indicate a lack of bile, which may suggest a serious problem (hepatitis, cirrhosis, pancreatic disorders, or possibly a blocked bile duct), so this warrants a call to your physician; antacids may also produce white stool
- Yellow stools may indicate giardianfection, a gallbladder problem, or a condition known as Gilbert’s syndrome – if you see this, call your doctor
- Increased mucus in stool: this can be associated with an inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis, or even colon cancer, especially if accompanied by blood or abdominal pain