What does it mean when your poop is stringy?

young man having a stomachache

Stringy poop is when stool appears thin or narrow, often resembling strips of ribbon. Doctors may link it to temporary, nonserious causes, such as poor diet, or it could be a sign of an underlying condition or disease.

While it is natural for stool to vary in appearance and consistency, poop that frequently appears stringy may require further medical investigation.

A person’s stool and bowel habits are considered good indicators of overall health. A healthy stool is a couple of inches in diameter, but stringy poop appears much narrower in comparison. It may also be flat, solid, or liquid.

Causes of stringy poop

Poop can take on a stringy appearance for many reasons. Here are some of the common reasons for stringy stools.

1. Poor diet

A diet that is low in fiber or fluids increases the chance of constipation. As a result, the stool can be less bulky and shrinks in size, taking on a stringy appearance.

Chronic constipation often leads to blockages that develop in the colon, leading to the passage of thin, stringy stools.

A simple way to counter constipation is to increase intake of fruits and vegetables, wholegrain bread and cereal, beans, and lentils.

Potatoes with the skins on, oats, almonds, and peas are other examples of high-fiber foods to include in your diet.

The American Heart Association recommend a daily intake of 25 grams of fiber, which helps soften the stool and aid bowel movement. The diets of most Americans, however, contain less than halfthis optimum amount.

2. Intestinal infection

Some bacteria or parasites cause infections in the digestive tract, particularly the intestines. Besides stringy stool, symptoms of intestinal infections include nausea, cramps, fatigue, and weight loss.

In most cases, doctors can easily treat these infections with antibioticsantiparasitic drugs, or medicines that neutralize stomach acidity. These treatments will both clear up the infection and resolve the issue of stringy stool.

3. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

IBS is a disorder of the large intestine and could be responsible for changes in a person’s bowel habits. Common symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, and persistent discomfort.

The cause of IBS is not fully understood. Among the theories is an oversensitivity of nerves in the intestine, intestinal muscle disorders, and inflammation of the lining of the intestine.

Medicine cannot cure IBS, as yet, but many people experience relief by avoiding triggers and learning to manage their symptoms in other ways.

4. Colorectal cancer

Although rare, stringy or narrow stool could be a sign of colorectal cancer. This type of cancer, however, is also accompanied by other symptoms that can include:

  • rectal bleeding
  • blood in the stool, giving it a dark appearance
  • cramping
  • abdominal pain
  • persistent weakness
  • unexplained but noticeable weight loss

If any of these symptoms are present, it is wise to check with a doctor who can confirm or rule out the presence of colorectal cancer and start treatment, accordingly.

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