What are your bowel movements telling you?
Whether you love or hate the Quilted Northern TP ads on TV,now’s the time to get real about what happens in the bathroom. Before March morphs into April we need to spread the scoop about poop in recognition of colorectal cancer awareness month.
Bottom line, (excuse the pun), we all poop. So now it’s time to stand up, or sit down, and take notice of what our bowel movements are telling us.
Signs of everything from disease to stress may show up in your bathroom bowl. The key is knowing what to look for — and what the signs may mean.
First off, there is no normal. People are different. So are bowel movements. The size, shape and consistency of feces will change greatly from person to person.
So instead of looking for “normal,” look for change. Are you going less, or more often? Has the consistency altered? Have you gone from runny to solid? If you experience a noticeable change that lasts, it’s time to see your doctor.
If there is blood in your feces on a recurring basis, you need to see a doctor, stat. Blood can be a sign of polyps or colorectal cancer. It also can be caused by benign conditions such as hemorrhoids and anal fissures. In any case, it’s worth getting checked out.
Also, keep an eye out for other symptoms: weight loss, fever, chills. When they come together, those are “high-alert” symptoms of bowel disorders.
Size does matter!
If you used to have sizeable stools but now they are always pencil thin and hard to pass, consult your doctor. In certain types of colorectal cancer, the bowel gets narrow, and so can your bowel movements. And while thin stools do not automatically mean cancer you should still see your doctor and have a colonoscopy just to be on the safe side.
Consistency, consistency, consistency
We all have bouts of diarrhea from time to time, usually as a result of food poisoning or an infection. But if you have frequent diarrhea it could be a sign of an inflammatory bowel condition such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
The scoop on stress
Your body as well as your brain reacts to things that go on around us. The impact of stress and unresolved issues may show up in your bathroom.
So next time you go to the bathroom instead of simply wiping and flushing take a moment or two to look and learn what your bowel movements are telling you.
Just wanted to mention German-style toilets, which have little shelves built in so that one can take a good look at one’s poop before flushing.