The bowels and other areas of the body naturally contain mucus. Hence, mucus in poop is considered normal. However, if mucus in stool is present in abnormal amounts and/or is clearly visible, then it can be indicative of some underlying disease which needs to be medically treated.
Patients with mucus in poop may also suffer from pain and cramps in abdomen, bloating, bloody stool, pus in stool, and unexpected bowel movement changes or altered stool consistency or color.
Mild instance of mucus in poop clears on its own. Severe cases need to be checked by a doctor for underlying causes and then treated accordingly.
Causes of mucus in poop
Some of the common causes of mucus in poop are mentioned below:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): A large section of the American population suffers from IBS, especially women. The condition affects large intestine function and causes mucus in stool. Doctors are not aware of the causes of this bowel condition. Patients may additionally experience stomach pain, bloating, abdominal cramps, bowel movement changes, and alternation constipation and diarrhea episodes.
- There is no cure for irritable bowel syndrome. Treatment involves management of symptoms via medications and diet and lifestyle changes
- Inflammatory bowel conditions: Bowels are affected by varied inflammatory conditions. However, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the most common inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) that cause mucus in poop. The former is characterized by excessive inflammation and adverse reactions of the immune system, while the latter harms the lower gut and rectum and triggers formation of open sores/ulcers.
- IBDs weaken the immune system, cause prolonged inflammation, and are marked by symptoms like stomach pain and cramps, constipation, appetite and weight loss, diarrhea, fatigue, painful defecation, and pain in rectum.
- Treatment includes drug therapy and surgery in severe cases
- Infections of the digestive system: Food poisoning or intake of food or water contaminated by bacteria (like E. coli, salmonella, helicobacter pylori, Yesinia, campylobacter, and shigella), viruses (like rotaviruses, norovirus, and astrovirus), parasites, or other germs can cause infections of the gastrointestinal tract and cause mucus in poop along with cramps, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and bloating.
- Food contamination can occur due to unhygienic kitchen or cooking areas; bad personal hygiene; undercooking or improperly cooking food; overcrowded, unsanitary, filthy surroundings; and bad food storage or food handling practices.
- Blockages in bowels: Bowel functioning can be adversely affected by blockages in the gut and result in symptoms like mucus in poop, cramping, constipation, gas, vomiting, abdominal pain, bloating, and distention.
- Bowel obstructions can be triggered by prolonged constipation which in turn can occur due to food allergies, bowel defects, dehydration, etc. Bowel blockages can also occur due to tumors, hernia, and non-food items in digestive system.
- Treatment options include drinking water and other fluids to rehydrate body; diet changes, self-care, and medications for food allergies; and/or surgery to repair bowel defects and restore normal function.
- Diverticulosis: Increased pressure on the walls of the large intestine by hard fecal matter stored within it can trigger the development of pouches on the colon walls. This condition is known as diverticulosis. It can be asymptomatic or patients may experience blood or mucus in stool, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, stomach pain, and flatulence.
- Stool can get trapped inside the pouches. Bacteria present in such trapped fecal matter can inflame the pouches (diverticula) and cause diverticulitis. Affected people may suffer from symptoms like bloody stool, mucus in poop, nausea, abdominal distention, shooting stomach pain, fever, and vomiting.
- Proctitis: Inflammation of the wall of the rectum is known as proctitis. Associated symptoms include mucus in poop, frequent and persistent bowel movements, bleeding from rectum, and abdominal swelling and pain.
- Rectal lining inflammation can occur due to underlying sexually transmitted diseases, IBDs, food-borne illnesses/infections, and/or radiation therapy.
- Proctitis is usually treated with antibiotics. Severe cases with inflammatory bowel disease as a causative factor may be surgically treated.
- Other causes: Mucus in poop may also occur as a symptom of ailments like hemorrhoids, anal fissures (tears in wall of lower rectum), ulcers, short bowel syndrome, cystic fibrosis, food intolerance, food allergy, gut worms, and malabsorption syndromes.
Treatment of mucus in poop
Mucus in poop is treated as per the underlying causative factors or conditions. Some common treatment options and self-care measures are as follows:
- Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics
- Doctors may prescribe supplements and probiotics to improve intestinal flora and ease symptoms like bowel movement irregularities, constipation, diarrhea, etc.
- Painkiller medications can alleviate discomfort and pain
- Treatment of severe causative conditions may involve long-term use of prescription drugs.
- Surgery is necessary to repair damage associated with anal fissures or rectal sores/ulcers
- Avoid foods that cause adverse or allergic reactions
- Eating a balanced healthy diet full of essential nutrients; quitting smoking; regular exercising; and limiting alcoholic and caffeinated beverages and other lifestyle changes can help prevent mucus in poop.
Filed in: Digestive-related