A sizeable population suffers from excessive mucus in stool. Read on to know what does mucus in stool mean as well as its causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
What is Mucus in Stool?
As the name indicates, it is a condition that leads to release of mucus in feces. Mucus is the thick substance that is manufactured in various parts of the body.
Is Mucus in Stool Normal?
Generally, there is a small amount of mucus in the stool. An abnormal amount of mucus in the feces is a cause for concern.
Excessive mucus in feces can occur due to a number of factors. These include
Some common respiratory ailments that can result in this condition include
- Common Cold (Viral Infection of the respiratory system)
- Allergic reaction arising from exposure to dust, pollen, cosmetics and dander
- Runny nose
- Nasal Congestion
- Microbial infections (infections caused by bacteria, virus and fungi)
- Sinusitis (Infection or inflammation of the sinuses)
- Influenza (flu)
- Hay Fever
Diseases affecting the gastrointestinal system can also lead to abnormal mucus release along with the stool. Such disorders include
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Bacterial Gastroenteritis (Bacterial Infection of the Gastrointestinal Tract) that includes Campylobacter infection, Traveler’s diarrhea or Salmonella food poisoning.
- Parasitic Gastroenteritis (Parasitic Infection of the Gastrointestinal Tract)
- Viral Gastroenteritis (Viral Infection of the Gastrointestinal Tract)
- Food poisoning
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Food allergies (allergenic reactions arising from consumption of certain foods like eggs)
- Digestive tract infections
- Dysentery (Infection and swelling of the colon that causes acute bloody diarrhea)
In some cases, mucus in stool may be a symptom of life-threatening disorders like Pneumonia and Cholera.
Bloody Mucus in Stool
In some cases, there is presence of both blood and mucus in stool. This happens when there is a condition like Hemorrhoid. Hemorrhoid involves anal bleeding that leads to the release of light red blood. The blood comes out along with stool during defecation. This causes much worry in patients. This condition is non-threatening but it is necessary to treat it as soon as possible to avoid further complications such as too much projection of rectal veins through the anal aperture.
Yellow Mucus in Stool
Yellow stool may be an indication of the presence of undigested fat in the feces. This may happen as a consequence of pancreatic disorders such as Chronic Pancreatitis that lowers digestive enzyme delivery to the intestines. The yellow color of stools may also be a result of abnormal blockage of the pancreatic duct that transports enzymes to intestines. Pancreatic Cancer is a common cause of Pancreatic Duct obstruction.
Mucus in Stool during Pregnancy
Pregnant women often complain of bloody mucus in their stool. This is a cause for concern and needs to be immediately addressed. Red mucus in stool may be a symptom of different factors like
Parasites may enter the system through consumption of infected water and food. The immune system becomes mildly weak during pregnancy and therefore, causes discharge of bloody mucus in the stool.
Bacterial infection of the intestine leads to an inflammation of its linings and leads to discharge of bloody mucus in the feces.
It is a condition that involves an obstruction of the bowel thus restricting the normal transit of food products during digestive process. Discharge of blood red mucus during defecation can arise from a functional or mechanical bowel obstruction.
This is an unusual condition in which a crack develops in the edges of the human anus. This leads to pain and bloody mucus release during defecation.
This acute inflammatory bowel disease of the rectum and the large intestine may lead to red and even white mucus in stool.
Orange Mucus in Stool
Orange color of mucus in stool is often a result of consumption of foods that are rich in Aluminum Hydroxide and Beta Carotene such as
- Collard greens
- Fresh thyme
- Sweet potatoes
- Turnip greens
- Winter squash
Intake of foods containing orange or yellow colored preservatives may also lead to orange colored stools.
Mucus in Stool and Colon Cancer
Cancer of the colon leads to a change of the bowel habit and leads to the discharge of a large amount of mucus into the stools. The cancer affects approximately 30,000 people living in the U.K. However, the condition has a 90% prognosis if it is diagnosed early. The condition typically affects men and women who are over 30 years of age. Chances of having colon cancer may increase if a person has this disease running for generations in his or her family.
Mucus in Stool in Infants
Infants who live on mother’s milk typically release stool of many colors. Teething and swallowing of saliva may also be the cause of abnormal stools that are pale yellow, dark brown and dark green in color. Frequently watery or clear stools may also be released due to conditions like diarrhea, food intolerance, viral infection and bowel infection.
If the condition is a result of severe complications, it can lead to acute complications and even permanent damage of organs. These involve
- Electrolyte imbalance and dehydration due to prolonged suffering from Diarrhea
- Respiratory failure and cessation
- Hypoxia (Low oxygen level in the bloodstream)
The diagnosis of this condition is carried out by the following methods
An abdominal examination is carried out to check for lump formation and tenderness. If tenderness is experienced in the lower left part of the abdomen, it may be an indication of irritable bowel syndrome or ulcerative colitis even without the presence of a significant lump. The temperature of the body is also taken into account to determine whether there is an infection.
Blood examination involves ESR and full blood count. This is useful in detecting the presence of amoeba antibodies in the bloodstream. However, amoeba antibody detection is not useful enough in severe cases.
Stool microscopy is carried out for parasites, ova and bacterial culture. Test is also carried out for occult blood. If the result is positive, it may be an indication of ulcerative colitis or large or small intestine infection.
Diagnostic procedures like Colonoscopy and Barium enema can show if there is any alteration in the bowel habit or if there is recurrent or persistent bleeding.
The cure for this condition depends on its underlying disease. In case of bacterial infection, no special type of treatment is needed to stop mucus release. The situation usually resolves after a period of time. If the condition is very serious and fails to improve after some time, antibiotics may be required for treatment. If bowel obstruction is the underlying cause, an operation may be needed for cure.
If excessive mucus is a result of bacterial overgrowth, patients should avoid consumption of sugar and food substances such as Bread, Pasta and Milk that consist of lactose sugar. People who have abnormal stool mucus due to food allergies should avoid those eatables that produce allergenic reactions in them.
As aforesaid, excessive mucus in feces may be a sign of complicated disorders in some cases. So if you are passing stools of abnormal color, seek immediate medical treatment. This will help you avoid complications and make an earlier recovery from the condition.