The state of your pee and poop can tell you many things about the state of your overall health. So it makes sense to know what to look for when you go to the toilet. Pee is generated by your kidneys to get rid of toxins and other things that might cause you to become sick if left in your blood. Healthy pee is straw-colored and is odorless. Your pee characteristics can highlight serious health problems including urinary stones, gallstones, infections, kidney problems, metabolic disorders, diabetes, pre-clampsia, pituitary disorders, and even cancer.
Your poop characteristics can also highlight serious health problems. These include celiac disease, hepatitis, gallstones, mal-absorption disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, and cancer. When assessing your poop, look at is it’s size, shape, smell and shade. You can also look at how often you poop, and how easy it is to pass.
So what does a normal poop look like? In the chart below, numbers three, four, and five are considered normal, although number four is ideal. A normal poop is easy-to-pass and has a rich brown color.
What to look for with your poop
- Small & hard-to-pass: If your poop is small and hard-to-pass you are likely to be constipated. The most common reasons are a lack of fiber and water in your diet. If you think you might not be getting enough fiber increase your intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds. You should be pooping daily, if you are not pooping for days you are likely to be very constipated.
- Loose: If you experience loose poop you could be suffering from celiac disease, crohn’s disease, bowel cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammation of the pancreas, or have a viral, bacterial or parasite infection.
- Black or bright red: If you have black or bright red poop, it could be that something in your digestive system is bleeding. Common reasons for that include hemorrhoids, a stomach ulcer, or colon cancer.
- Floats instead of sinks: If your poop floats instead of sinks it can indicate your body is struggling to absorb fat from the food you eat. This might be due to inflammation or infection of your pancreas which prevents digestive enzymes breaking down fat. Or, it could be a food allergy or infection that is damaging the lining of your intestine which means the fat is not being properly absorbed by your body.
- Smelly poop with diarrhea: If your poop smells like eggs (or sulphur), and you have diarrhea, you could have the parasite infection, giardia. If you have this infection you might feel fine apart from having the smelly diarrhea.
- Pencil-thin: If your poop is pencil-thin it could mean you are constipated, or it could be an indication of a bowel obstruction. Bowel obstructions can be caused by a prostate enlargement, and colon rectal or prostate cancers. Healthy poop is considered to be one to two inches in diameter.
- Seaweed green color: If your poop is a seaweed green color, and you have diarrhea, you could have the bacterial infection clostridium difficile. This bacteria is a normal part of the flora in your digestive tract but taking antibiotics can kill off the good bacteria that normally keeps it in balance. As a result, the bacteria may grow out of control leading to the green poop.
- Yellow color: If your poop is yellow it may indicate problems with the gallbladder and liver. Bile salts from the liver give poop its brown color so when there is a lack of bile, it often first appears as yellow stool. It could also indicate the parasite infection giardia.
- White or gray color: If your poop is white or gray it may indicate a lack of bile which may suggest a serious problem such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, a blocked bile duct, or an issue with your pancreas.
- Increased mucus: If your poop has increased mucus in it, it can be an indication of crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or colon cancer.
What to look for with your pee
- Dark brown: If your pee is dark brown it generally indicates extreme dehydration. However, it can also indicate a whole series of other health issues. If you are drinking enough water and your pee is still dark brown, it makes sense to get it checked out by your doctor.
- Always having to go: If you are peeing more frequently than usual it might mean that you have an infection, diabetes, or an overactive bladder.
- Stinging pain: If you experience pain upon peeing it could be that you have an infection or have kidney stones.
- Pungent smell: If your pee is smelly (like ammonia) you could have an infection or urinary stones, or you may simply be dehydrated. Dehydration causes your pee to be more concentrated, and therefore it may have a stronger smell than normal. Other reasons for having smelly pee include some sexually transmitted diseases.
- Sweet smell: If you smell something sweet after you pee it can indicate diabetes. If you are pregnant, changes in the kidney filtration system can result in the presence of sugar in your pee, too (gestational diabetes).
- White or colorless: If your pee has no color it suggests that you are drinking too much fluid. Drinking too much fluid can lead to sodium levels in your blood becoming too diluted. Symptoms include confusion, headaches, nausea and bloating. In severe cases, it can lead to seizures, organ failure, and even death.
- Cloudy: If your pee looks cloudy you could have an infection, or a problem with your kidneys, pituitary gland, or metabolism.
- Red or pink: If your pee is red or pink it can indicate there is fresh blood in it. This can be caused by an infection, kidney stone, or cancer. Some foods and medications can lead to red or pink pee, for example beetroot.
- Foamy: If your pee looks foamy it can indicate it has protein in it. This can be caused by diabetes or hypertension.
- Sediment: If your pee has sediment in it, it can also indicate you have protein in your pee, which again can be due to diabetes or hypertension. It can also indicate an infection or kidney stones.
If there is anything that looks a bit unusual about your poop or pee, please consult your doctor for a proper assessment of your health.