Do you know that your stomach is capable of eating itself due to the strong acid produce in your stomach? There is a thick protective mucus barrier which prevents that from happening, and without it, ulcers can form which leads to poor digestion and abdominal pain symptoms.
This jellylike substance also keeps the lining of your colon moist and lubricated. As such, experiencing a small amount of mucus in your stool is usually nothing worrying and it can appear clear, white or yellow. But when will the presence of mucus in your stool be a cause for concern?
Excess mucus in stool
The presence of large amounts of visible mucus in your stool might be a sign of a problem. Sometimes it can be accompanied by other symptoms, which could be indicative of an underlying problem that may be serious. Symptoms like stomach pain, bloating, cramping, changes in bowel movements or blood in stool can be present. You should talk to a gastroenterology specialist if you noticed an increase in the amount of mucus in stool.
Excess mucus in the stool may point towards a gastrointestinal (GI) problem. Changes in mucus level may lie in the mucosal layer in your intestines being broken down as a result of an inflammatory process. As such, mucus may be excreted with your stool. This will give pathogens inside your colon easier access to your body and increases your chance of potentially falling ill.
There are also other conditions that can be the cause of an increase in mucus levels, namely:
- Cystic fibrosis
A genetic disorder that causes the body to produce thick, sticky mucus, causing mucus buildup in liver, lung, and intestines which leads to breathing and digestive problems.
- Crohn’s disease
An inflammatory bowel disease affecting the GI tract with symptoms like diarrhoea or fatigue.
- Ulcerative colitis
Similar to Crohn’s disease, this inflammatory bowel disease affects the large intestine or colon with symptoms such as blood-stained mucus or stools containing mucus during bowel movements.
- Intestinal infection
Infection from bacteria or food-borne GI illnesses can also lead to mucus in the stool, such as salmonella, which develops from consuming contaminated water or food.
- Irritable bowel syndrome
It is a common disorder that affects the normal function of the large intestine, and can increase the amount of mucus that appears in stool.
- Malabsorption issues
There is a number of different disorders that can result in malabsorption issues, which is when the intestines are unable to absorb or digest certain essential nutrients. Some conditions related to malabsorption are chronic pancreatitis, certain cardiovascular problems and celiac disease.
- Colon cancer
Also known as bowel cancer or rectal cancer, it begins at the rectum with symptoms including constipation, persistent diarrhoea or abdominal pain.
How to treat it
To treat the excess mucus, the doctor will need to diagnose and treat the underlying problems. Tests can be carried out including stool culture, colonoscopy, endoscopy and pelvic MRI scan to reach a diagnosis. Depending on the cause, lifestyle changes, prescription medications, surgical procedures or a combination of them will be necessary to help relieve or resolve the issue.
If you have recently been sick or taken antibiotics, you might also notice a change in your stool mucus levels. Seek medical attention from a gastroenterologist specialist if it persists after a few weeks and there are other symptoms of a GI problem.