The survey, conducted on behalf of Benenden Health, showed that many UK adults would not seek medical support for any abnormal faeces, but what would that look like? Cheryl Lythgoe, Matron at Benenden Health, said: “Our toilet habits can give us a good indication of our overall health and as such, we should pay close attention to them.” Unusual faeces includes “a change in the colour, shape, minocycline females consistency or smell of your poo”.
Green poo, for instance, could be related to your diet, an underlying health condition, or an effect of medication.
Lythgoe said, in terms of diet, green poo could be the result of eating a lot of spinach or kale.
“It could also be the result of food that moves through the bowel too quickly,” she added.
Green poo might occur “when you have diarrhoea”, or if you have an underlying health condition such as Crohn’s disease or coeliac disease.
“This means that bile can’t be broken down as quickly causing a greenish tinge in poo,” she explained.
Lythgoe added: “Some medications can cause green poo, as antibiotics for example can affect the good bacteria in the gut that stains your poo brown.
“Bacteria that cause food poisonings such as salmonella, and viruses such as norovirus can also be responsible for green poo.”
Any green poo accompanied by pain, reoccurring diarrhoea, or vomiting that doesn’t improve should be checked out by a doctor.
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“If you have any of these symptoms, please make an appointment with your health care provider right away,” said Lythgoe.
It’s also a red flag to find blood in your stool or to notice a change in the frequency of your toilet habits that “lasts for two weeks or more”.
“Please do get it checked out by a professional,” urged Lythgoe.
“The chances are it won’t be anything serious,” she assured. “But for peace of mind, and to get suitable treatment for any issues, it’s really important to leave fear and embarrassment at the door and go get some medical advice.”
What a normal poo should look like
ZOE, founded by the likes of Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, revealed what a healthy poo is meant to look like.
The texture should be “soft to firm sausages, passed in a single piece or a few smaller pieces” that sinks in the toilet bowl.
On the Bristol Stool Chart, a healthy poo looks like number three or number four (pictured above).
Poo “should be medium to dark brown” in colouring, not green, yellow, grey, black or red.
Echoing Lythgoe’s words, the occasional green poop is “nothing to worry about”, but persistent green poo is.
Light yellow or grey poop could be a sign of inflammation, a blocked bile duct, or an inability to absorb nutrients properly.
Black or red poo could be indicative of bleeding in the digestive tract, which will need to be checked out by a doctor.
The research survey was a collaboration between Beneden Health and Channel 4.
It was conducted by Censuswide, with 2,002 adults in the UK between December 7 to December 9, 2022.
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