Everybody poops; it’s a fact of life. A lesser-known fact, though, is that your poop can actually be an indicator of broader health concerns. In a new video, E.R. doctor and YouTuber Jordan Wagner lists five instances in which your bowel movements are also red flags.
“Stool that is occasionally very thin is not a cause for concern; it’s likely due to muscle contractions in the large intestine,” says Wagner. “But if there’s a sudden or consistent change in your stool that’s always thin, it could mean there’s a blockage in your colon, and you should see you doctor.”
Your poop is oily or greasy
“It could be a signal that your body is not able to properly digest fat. The consistency changes could be caused by an infection or something like celiac disease, or pancreatitis, or even some forms of cancer.”
It’s black or tar-like
A common cause of this, Wagner explains, is that you’re taking iron supplements, or medication that contains bismuth, like Pepto-Bismol. “However, it could also mean that you’re losing blood somewhere in your gastrointestinal tract,” he adds. So if this occurs frequently, and you’re not taking iron or bismuth-rich medication, then you should speak with a doctor.
Other color changes
“The color of your stool is greatly impacted by not only the foods that you eat, but also the kinds of bacteria living in your colon,” says Wagner. “In general, the change of color of your stool is not typically major cause of concern.”
“This is a sign of constipation,” says Wagner. “And just because you ‘kinda, sorta’ went to the bathroom, doesn’t mean you’re not still constipated.” He warns that not drinking sufficient amounts of water can lead to waste building up in the large intenstine, making the situation worse over time.
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