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Mucus in Stool : Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is mucus in stool? 

Mucus is a thick, jelly-like substance. The body uses this substance to protect the tissue and organs. It also lubricates the tissue and organs.  Mucus reduces the damage caused by bacteria, fungus or viruses and protects the stomach against harmful fluids and stomach acids. A small quantity of mucus in the stool is generally not to be worried about. Normally, stool contains a small amount of mucus — a jelly-like substance made by intestines to keep the lining of the colon lubricated and moist.

But you should talk to your doctor if you notice an increased amount of mucus in stool — particularly if it begins happening regularly or if it’s accompanied by bleeding or a change in bowel habits.

Seek medical attention immediately when:

  • There’s a lot of mucus in the stools
  • You notice it frequently
  • You also notice blood
  • You have belly pain
  • You have diarrhea

If you have any of the above symptoms, call your doctor

What are the causes of mucus in stool? 

  • Ulcerative colitis : Ulcerative colitis is also an inflammatory bowel illness. It’s a long-term disorder that produces inflammation in the rectum or large intestine. When the body is dealing with the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, mucus output increases, which can lead to an increase in mucus in the feces. 
  • Crohn’s disease: Crohn’s disease is a kind of inflammatory bowel disease that affects the gastrointestinal system. Early signs and symptoms include diarrhea, tiredness, and an abundance of mucus in the stool. 
  • Irritable bowel syndrome: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms that occur without a medical diagnosis and include abdominal pain, cramping, and abnormal bowel habits. Mucus in the stool may be linked to diarrhea that some people suffer as a symptom of IBS. 
  • Intestinal infection: Examples of intestinal infections that led to mucus in the stool are salmonella and shigellosis that occurs due to consumption of contaminated food. Clostridium difficile infection can cause severe and even life-threatening diarrhea. It smells very bad and often has mucus. 
  • Food poisoning: If you get flu-like symptoms and your stools have blood or mucus in it, you may have food poisoning. It usually clears up within days.
  • Colon or rectal cancer: Colon or rectal cancer causes symptoms like blood and mucus in stool, rectal bleeding and sudden weight loss. 
  • Malabsorption issues : This condition occurs when the bowel finds it difficult to absorb the nutrients in the body. Other conditions that are similar to malabsorption are lactose intolerance and celiac disease. 
  • Proctitis : This is inflammation of the lower part of your large intestine, called the rectum. Sexually transmitted infections, foodborne illnesses, and IBD can cause it.

Also Read About: Solitary Rectal Ulcer Syndrome

  • Anal Abscess or Fistula : An abscess refers to an infection majorly in the perianal area of the human body. This infection causes a pocket of pus inside the body and occurs to people with Crohn’s disease. In some cases, the abscess will get large and forms a tunnel between organs or between the skin and an organ. In this condition, it is called a fistula. This abscess or fistula may break and may drain the mucus into the stool. 
  • Ostomy: An ostomy is a surgical procedure to create an alternate way for the urine and faeces to leave the body. After this procedure, the waste products do not pass through the rectum but still they produce fluids. This fluid may build up and may pass to the stool.
  • Bacterial Infections: Some bacterial infections such as campylobacter, salmonella, shigella, and yersinia may cause mucus in blood. Some infections may heal on their own, but some need medical attention. Keep an eye on these infections and seek the help of a healthcare provider if you observe diarrhea, fever or abdominal cramps. 
  •  Bowel obstructions: Sometimes adhesions, hernia, gallstones, tumours, and swallowing an object that is not food may cause an obstruction in the passage of the bowel. The bowels that pass these obstructions may carry mucus in them. 
  • Cystic Fibrosis: Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition which leads to an increase in the production of mucus in the body and it usually affects the lungs. But it can also affect the digestive tract and pass on to the stool.
  • Gastroenteritis: When contaminated food or water is consumed, bacteria or virus infects the stomach and intestine causing gastroenteritis. Gastroenteritis can be a cause of mucus in stool. It can also lead to nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite, vomiting and pain in the abdomen. 
  • Other causes: Intolerance to lactose, fructose, sucrose, gluten, and others can cause mucus in stool. It can also be due to intestinal parasites such as tapeworms, hookworms, pinworms or lack of dietary fiber that allows smoother waste removal. 

When does mucus in stool become serious?

Mucus in stool is normally an easily treatable condition. But if you spot blood or pus in stools, severe abdominal pain, or constant diarrhea, immediately meet an expert since it can have some serious underlying cause. 

How is mucus in stool diagnosed? 

The first step in finding is to test a sample of the stool. The doctor has to diagnose and treat underlying problems related to inflammation in the colon. 

The stool sample results help to find if the person requires further tests to find the cause of mucus in the stool. The following are the tests usually recommended by healthcare professionals:

How is mucus in stool treated? 

Mucus in stool is a symptom of an underlying condition. Therefore, the treatment varies depending on the type of diagnosis. If it is mild, then lifestyle changes play a major role to resolve the issue. Various changes that can be made are: 

  • Increasing the intake of fluid 
  • Consuming foods rich in probiotics 
  • Trying to have a nutritious balance of fiber, carbohydrates and fat  

Patients with chronic conditions require medications and treatment. 

When is a patient suggested to visit a doctor? 

If the mucus in the stool occurs rarely, there’s nothing to worry about . But if the mucus is accompanied by other symptoms, it is advised to consult a doctor immediately. The following are some of the cases that require immediate attention:

Conclusion

Most people have mucus in their stools, but it’s usually so little that it goes unnoticed. Mucus in stools may be a sign of a more serious health problem. The patient should speak with the doctor about the other symptoms you’re having, as well as the duration and amount of mucus in the stool, to rule out something more serious. If the doctor suspects an underlying issue, he or she will ask about the medical and nutritional history, perform a physical exam, and order tests.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What does white mucus in stool mean?

White mucus in stool along with the presence of blood may indicate rectal or colon cancer. It is advised to visit a healthcare provider to rule out the possibility of dangerous underlying diseases. 

What does bloody mucus in stool means?

Bloody mucus in stool accompanied by abdominal pain, can be indicators of serious conditions like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and even cancer.

Is it normal to see mucus in your poop?

It is normal to see small amounts of mucus in the poop. But if it is associated with blood, severe abdominal pain or diarrhea, a healthcare provider should be visited to track the dangerous underlying disease, if there is any. 

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Verified By Dr Raghu D K
MBBS(OSM), MD(Internal Medicine), AB(american Board ertified),Fellowship in Gastroenterlogy & Hepatology(USA), Consultant Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist, Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad
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