Mucus in your stool could mean there's something wrong

Mucus in the body is natural and a very important part of how the body works. Tissues produce mucus to line and protect the mouth, nose, sinuses, throat, lungs, and gut.

Most times, mucus is clear and thin. However, illness, diet, or environmental factors can sometimes increase mucus consistency and they can even change in colour.

People usually have more mucus when they have a sinus infection and may notice the mucus is a greenish colour.

Men and women at any age can spot signs that something is wrong based on the content of their stool as well.

A “normal” bowel movement will not produce much mucus that the yellow or clear mucus present can not be detected by the naked eye.

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However, when stool has visible mucus, it can be a sign of bacterial infections, anal fissures, a bowel obstruction, or Crohn’s disease. Increased mucus is the body’s way of trying to alert us that something might be wrong.

You should look for:

1. Increased amounts of mucus
2. Blood or pus in the stool
3. Stomach pain, cramping, or bloating
4. Sudden changes in stool frequency, consistency, or colour
5. If the problem is obvious or persists, the next step is a call to the doctor.

Dehydration and constipation can cause mucus can give the stool the appearance of increased mucus which isn’t that serious. However, according to Medical News Today, there are other conditions that cause increase of mucus:

Bacterial infections
Bacterial infections are usually caused by bacteria such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, and Yersinia. These bacteria are often the cause of food poisoning and other infections.  While some cases can be quite serious, and medication from a doctor is recommended, others can be treated at home and must run their course. Signs include: Diarrhea, cramping, vomiting, nausea and fever.

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Anal fissures and ulcers
An anal fissure is a tear in the lining of the lower rectum. They are caused by persistent diarrhea, tough stools, and other difficult bowel situations. An anal fissure can cause painful bowel movements, but they are not that serious. There are over-the-counter remedies to lessen pain, and most clear up within a few days to weeks. Ulcers are similar to anal fissures. If undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy, the body may suffer from a more severe loss of mucus called gastrointestinal mucositis. This condition may require hospital treatment.

Bowel obstruction
More natural day-to-day symptoms like cramps, constipation, and gas or bloating can be signs of a bowel obstruction. Possible causes could be an impacted stool, hernia, tumour, or the passing of a non-food item. Any increase in this type of activity should be reported to a doctor. If it does not clear up in a decent timeframe, hospital treatment may be necessary.

Irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may increase mucus production. This symptom is more common in people with diarrhea-predominant IBS than those with constipation-predominant IBS. Crohn’s disease is far less likely to produce increased amounts of mucus in stool. Increased mucus could be due to another issue like an anal fissure that may require a medical consultation.

Food allergies, such as those associated with nuts, lactose, or gluten, can cause mucus in the stool. Certain food items may cause discomfort and the following symptoms: Bloating, diarrhea, rashes, constipation. A doctor will help determine whether it is a food allergy or intolerance, which can often be confused. People should contact a doctor if a noticeable increase in mucus or blood in a bowel movement occurs after eating a certain food.

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What do you do when you discover something that’s not normal?

Make an appointment with a doctor who might ask you to bring in a stool sample. This sample will then be used to detect parasites, bacteria, and other illnesses.

Always speak with a doctor or pharmacist before taking medication and if you have frequent and persistent mucus in the stool, keep a journal to document any changes which can then be shared with your doctor.

Do you keep a a health journal?