The scoop on poop

PHOTO: The scoop on poop

Most people are very conscious about what they put inside their mouth. But did you know that you should also be as conscious about what comes out of the other end?

When it comes to poop, most people just do the deed, flush, and go.

However, it might be a good habit to take a look first, as your poop is actually a very good indicator of your health, and how your digestive tract is functioning, in particular.

Here are the things you should take note of when you scrutinise your stool.

First, look at its shape . You can refer to the Bristol Stool Form Scale (below), which tells you how long your stool has been in your colon.

This will let you know whether all is good, or if you're suffering from constipation or diarrhoea.

A Type 4 stool has been referred to as the most ideal stool. Types 3 and 5 are still ok. However, Types 1 and 2 are considered to be constipated, while 6 and 7 are signs of diarrhoea.

Second, determine the colour . Brown stool is usually an indication that things are normal, so if you have significant changes in your stool's colour, it is a good idea to consult a doctor.

Third, establish the frequency of your bowel movements. Are you a once-a-day type of person or does it take you a few days before you have to do it again?

Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Consultant at Fortis Surgical Hospital, says: "Bowel frequency varies from person to person and depends on what we eat as well. In general, anything from once every three days to three times per day can be considered normal provided this is the person's usual pattern. Any sudden change in pattern or frequency which is persistent for a few weeks without any obvious triggers should prompt a thorough evaluation to exclude bowel diseases."

Fourth, how does your poop smell ? We all know that it may stink, but this is normal due to bacterial activity. So this depends on the food that you eat as well as the bacteria inside your gut.

However, if it smells especially bad, this may also be a sign of infections like ulcerative colitis or celiac disease.

Likewise, if the foul smell is accompanied by very soft, black sticky stool, this could be melaena, which could be due to intestinal bleeding.

As you can see, you can tell a lot about what is going on inside your body by examining your poop. Think of it as an early-warning system - just make sure to heed the warning once you've seen (and smelled!) the signs.

Do something for your loved ones and make love the reason for early health screening today!