It’s hard to know if your poop is healthy.

Thankfully there is a visual guide to understanding your poo and more importantly whether it is healthy or not.

Bristol stool chart explained

The Bristol Stool Chart was developed by Dr Ken Heaton in 1997 at the University of Bristol within the UK as an aid for medical professionals to diagnose patients with gastrointestinal disease.  

It was designed to give a visual representation of what healthy poop should look like. It’s been used for over 30 years, but most people still don’t know about it.

Bristol stool chart is a method that classifies the form of human stools into seven categories, from hard and small to soft and large. This stool classification system has been used as a basis for many subsequent studies on bowel habits.

This infographic is an easy-to-use guide that will help you figure out which type of poo is normal for your body. You can also use this chart to track changes in your stools over time so that you can reach a diagnosis if something isn’t right with them. Use this graphic as a way to learn more about healthful bowel movements.

The Bristol Stool Chart Scale to Identify your Poo
The Bristol Stool Chart Scale to Identify your Poo

How does the Bristol stool chart work?

The Bristol stool chart is a medical diagram used to classify the form of human faeces into seven categories, ranging from constipation (Type 1) to diarrhea (Type 7).

The Bristol Stool Chart has been recognized as an important diagnostic tool in identifying possible gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, diverticulosis and colon cancer

A chart is a great tool for understanding your digestive health, but it can also be used to diagnose potential problems with your gut bacteria.

The Bristol stool chart categorizes stools into seven types: Type 1 (types of hard stools), Types 2-4 (soft stools) and Types 5-7 (diarrhea).

It’s important to note that these categories refer only to the shape of the stool, not how often you go or what colour it is.

After placing a sample on a slide and examining it under a microscope, doctors would input this information into the chart to help patients understand their bowel habits.

Today, the Bristol stool chart is still used as a tool for diagnosing gut problems and helping people to understand their digestive health.

For example, if you are experiencing frequent diarrhea, your doctor may use the chart to determine if you have an infection or another problem that is causing your symptoms.

If you have a gut infection, it could affect your stool type. This can potentially move you from Types 4 and 5 into the diarrhea section of the chart.

Types 1-3 are considered “normal” stools because they reflect healthy digestive patterns and regular bowel movements. Types 5-7, on the other hand, are indicative of gut problems and should be discussed with a doctor.

What are the different types of stools and how do they affect your health

There are seven types of stool according to the Bristol Stool Chart, which was developed by a team of doctors at the University of Bristol. The chart classifies stools into one of seven categories based on their shape and consistency: type 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7.

Type 1 stools are small, hard and pellet-like. They are difficult to pass and are indicative of constipation.

Type 2 stools are also small and hard, but they are more smooth than type 1 pellets. They also indicate constipation.

Type 3 stools are sausage-shaped and soft. They are the ideal stool type and are usually indicative of regularity.

Type 4 stools are soft, but break apart easily when they come out. They may be somewhat difficult to pass and indicate diarrhea or malabsorption.

Type 5 stools are more like type 3 stools, except that they float in water since they are more air-filled. This stool type may be indicative of an ileal fistula.

Type 6 stools are a sign of slow-transit constipation and are also air-filled. They usually contain undigested food particles and take a long time to pass.

Type 7 stools float in water since they consist mostly of gas. They are a sign of intestinal obstruction.

If you are experiencing any changes in your stool type, it is important to see a doctor in order to determine the cause. Changes in bowel habits can be indicative of a number of different health conditions, including constipation, diarrhea, IBS and colorectal cancer.

Understanding the Bristol Stool Chart can help you to better understand your own bowel habits and to identify any potential health concerns. If you have any questions about your stool type, please talk to your doctor.

The various compositions of poo listed from Type 1 to Type 7
The various compositions of poo listed from Type 1 to Type 7

Who should use the Bristol stool chart

Those wishing to change their diet or lifestyle can use the chart to see the changes. Remember to allow up to two weeks for your body to adjust before seeing changes on a stool chart.

However, the Bristol stool chart is not meant for everyone. It is specifically designed for people with bowel problems, such as constipation or diarrhea.

If you do not have any bowel problems, the Bristol stool chart may not be the best tool for you. Talk to your doctor if you are not sure whether the Bristol stool chart is right for you.

How to use the Bristol stool chart for your health

There are a few things you need to keep in mind when using the Bristol stool chart:

  • Allow up to two weeks for your body to adjust before seeing changes on a stool chart. This is especially important if you are making dietary changes.
  • Be sure to track your symptoms carefully. This will help you and your doctor determine if the changes you are making are helping to improve your symptoms.
  • Remember that the Bristol stool chart is not meant for everyone. It is specifically designed for people with bowel problems. If you do not have any bowel problems, the Bristol stool chart may not be the best tool for you. Talk to your doctor if you are not sure whether the Bristol stool chart is right for you.
  • The chart does not provide specific measurements of your stools. You should use it to get an idea of changes in shape, size, and frequency.
  • You should take the test twice a day for two weeks at least once every three months to help monitor symptoms.

To take the test, follow these simple steps:

1. Record when you first sit on the toilet in the morning. (There is no need to record anything if you do not have any bowel movements.)

2. Write down your bowel movement shape, size and frequency for three consecutive days, starting with the day that you first recorded sitting on the toilet. Please write the results as described in the Bristol Stool Scale below.

3. Record any other symptoms that may come up during this time, such as rectal bleeding, an urgency to defecate, changes in bowel habits, etc.

4. Repeat steps 1 through 3 every three months if you have no bowel problems, or every month if you have bowel problems.

The Bristol Stool Chart or Bristol Stool Scale is a medical aid designed to classify stools (known as ‘faeces’ or ‘poo’) split into seven groups.

Elements that affect your stools

The way we live our lives can make a dramatic difference in our bowel habits. Some of these include:

  • Hydration – how much you drink changes the composition of your poo
  • Exercise – changes brought about by muscle strength and stimulus to your body
  • Foods – fibre introduced into your diet
  • Medication – for your health condition or taking antibiotics
  • Illness – coughs, colds, flu and fever can play a part
  • Health issues – autoimmune diseases such as celiac, IBD, lupus, diabetes, thyroid conditions
  • Mental state – stress, anxiety and depression all play a part in changing your habits
  • Travel – changes to your body clock can have an adverse effect
  • Age – as we get older our becomes harder to regulate
  • Hormonal changes – when pregnant or menstruating

Common causes for changes in bowel movements

Bowel movements are a fairly regular occurrence for most people, and they can vary in frequency depending on diet and lifestyle.

The average person has three bowel movements per day. However, the number of bowel movements may change due to certain conditions or habits.

For instance, if you eat more fibre or drink fewer fluids, your bowel movement frequency will increase because these things soften stool and make it easier to pass.

If you have diarrhea from an infection or other illness that lasts more than two days, this also increases the number of daily bowel movements.

Constipation is another common cause for changes in bowel motions; many people find that their bowels become impacted when they do not move their bowels regularly, which causes hard stools to accumulate in the rectum and colon.

There are a number of conditions that can cause changes in bowel movements, but the most common are diet and lifestyle, diarrhea, and constipation. If you experience any changes in your bowel movements that persist for more than two weeks, it is important to see your doctor to rule out any potential medical causes.

Remember, if you have any questions about your bowel movements, ask your doctor.

What should you be aware of

Changes in bowel movements can occur due to many reasons, but the most common are diet and lifestyle.

Bowel movements that are either soft or watery may be caused by diarrhea, which is often associated with food poisoning, infections (particularly gastroenteritis), or other illnesses.

On the other hand, if you have constipation, you may find that your bowel movements are harder than usual and that you need to strain to pass them. This is often due to a lack of fibre in the diet, dehydration, or medications such as painkillers.

If you experience any changes in your bowel movements that persist for more than two weeks, it is important to see your doctor to rule out any potential medical causes. Remember, if you have any questions about your bowel movements, ask your doctor.

“A diet rich in fibre tends to have more formed, brown stools, most commonly seen in Bristol Stool Chart Type 4. If your diet’s low in fibre and water, you might find your poops more consistently look like Types 1 through 3.”

Dr Lee

What you should do to change your stools for the better

There are a lot of different things that can be done in order to make your stool better.  For example, you could add more fibre to your diet by eating foods such as fruits and vegetables or adding supplements like psyllium husks or ground flaxseeds to your food.

You could also drink plenty of water during the day and avoid drinking alcohol which may cause diarrhea.

Another thing that you might want to do is get more exercise on a regular basis because this promotes healthy digestion.

Additionally, if you have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome then it would be wise for you to take medications prescribed by a doctor.

However, one thing that shouldn’t be done is taking laxatives because they don’t actually fix the problem but will just give you a short-term solution.

In conclusion

Your healthcare professional will use the Bristol Stool Chart to assess your poo. The 7-point scale can help you characterise the form and consistency of your stool.

Based on the results, your provider can assess your bowel patterns and habits and order more tests as needed to figure out what may be causing your GI issues.

The scale is also used as a research tool to look into gastrointestinal illnesses and how well different therapies perform for them.

If you are experiencing chronic constipation, diarrhea, or pain when passing stools, please visit your doctor for further examination.


A quick reminder ..

Probiotics.tips aim to provide the most up to date information, help and advice for YOU to make informed decisions. If you are unsure or uncertain and require more clarity, please reach out to us and we will gladly come back and advise you as best we can.

The best means to reach us is via email at info@probiotics.tips or fill out the form on our Contact Us page – click here.

Probiotics.tips

Similar Posts