Poop, stool, feces, or bowel movement — regardless of what you personally call the stuff that emerges from the digestive system, chances are that you don't think about it much unless you notice something unusual.
Normal, healthy adult stool is ideally brown in color, snake-like in appearance (with or without slight "cracks"), and fairly soft. Infant stool is yellow in color and even softer.
The appearance of your stool can indicate many health issues, for instance:
- Hard, clumpy stool points to constipation.
- Partially or entirely liquid bowel movements represent diarrhea.
- Black,tar-like feces can be the result of bleeding in the upper digestive tract, but may also be caused by certain medications and even foods like leafy greens.
- White stool can indicate a bile obstruction.
- Red bowel movements can point to bleeding within the lower digestive tract, but can also happen after you eat bright red foods like beets.
- Abnormally smelly poop may tell you you've got an infection on your hands.
What if you notice mucus in your stool, something some people refer to as "jelly-like" and "clear" poop? A small amount of mucus accompanying a normal bowel movement as described above is nothing to worry about — this mucus helps lubricate your digestive passage and some amount is always present in your poop. Larger amounts should catch your attention, though, because they can indicate serious medical conditions.
What Conditions Are Associated With Large Amounts Of Mucus In The Stool?
- Bacterial infections, like those caused by Salmonella, Campylobacter, Shigella, and Yersinia, are among the most common causes of stool with a lot of mucus.
- Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's disease are two inflammatory bowel conditions that can lead to mucus in the stool. While ulcerative colitis features inflammation of the bowel along with ulcers, usually but not always limited to the lower digestive tract, Crohn's disease features diarrhea over a long period of time. This diarrhea can contain copious amounts of mucus and even pus, along with blood. Both conditions lead to abdominal pain.
- Neuronal intestinal dysplasia and Hirschsprung's disease are two conditions that can cause constipation, distention, and slimy stool.
- A bowel obstruction, during which food cannot move through the digestive tract as the result of adhesions, the use of some medications, cancer, or hernia, among other causes, can be partial. In this case, the stool may feature excessive mucus.
- Colon cancer can lead to changed bowel habits, narrow feces, diarrhea or constipation, abdominal pain or tenderness, and spontaneous, unexplained weight loss. More jelly-like, mucus-filled stools can also occur.
The Bottom Line
Any time you notice changes in your bowel movements that concern you, because they differ from the normal, healthy stools you're used to, it's good to take note. Most of the time, you will find that you're back to normal within no time and there's nothing to be concerned about. Should your mucus-filled, slimy, jelly-like bowel movements persist, however, or should you notice an alarming amount of mucus, it is important to seek medical attention.
It always helps to capture any very unusual bowel movement in a jar, so you can show it to your doctor. That might sound disgusting, but it could speed the diagnostic process along significantly.
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