The Bristol Stool Chart Explained

It is true that your toilet bowl could say a lot about you. The color, texture, size, shape and form of your stools reflect your diet, fluid intake, illness, lifestyle and medications. It is important to self analyze your stools.

The Bristol Stool Chart

was devised by Dr. Ken Heaton at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. It is now a well known medical aid which helps to classify, distinguish and differentiate human feces. It was first published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology in 1997. The shape and texture of your stool depends on how much time it spends in the colon. The kind of food one eats and the diseases affecting the body also have a role to play.

Bristol Stool Chart

The Bristol Stool Chart

divides human feces into 7 categories:

  • Type 1

    : Individual hard lumps which are too hard to touch. It has a hard texture almost like pebbles. The stool is hard to pass and can require a lot of straining.

  • Type 2

    : Shaped like a sausage with lumps. It is hard and can exert a lot of pressure on the rectum while making an exit from the body.

  • Type 3

    : Sausage shaped with surface cracks. It is relatively softer and is easy to pass.

  • Type 4

    : Again sausage shaped with a smooth and soft surface without any cracks and lumps. This is the most desirable state of stools and does not exert any pressure in the anal and rectal cavity while being discharged.

  • Type 5

    : Soft blobs of feces with defined sides and edges. They are of a softer consistency and are easily passed.

  • Type 6

    : Essentially of a mushy consistency. Ragged edged fluffy pieces which are softer than desired. They are generally accompanied with a foul smell.

  • Type7

    : Entirely watery with no solids. It is mostly indicative of a diarrhea like situation.

Inference from the Bristol Stool Chart

  • Type 1 and Type 2 is indicative of a constipated situation. The diet may lack fiber. Less fiber and less liquid intake are the primary reasons of the type of stools described in Types 1 and 2. The stools have spent a lot of time in the colon where the fluids in the feces gets reabsorbed bringing about the hard nut like texture. These two types of stool may not be passed very frequently.
  • Types 3 and 4 refer to the ideal category of stools. They are indicative of the fact that the gastrointestinal tract is perfectly healthy. They are passed regularly and do not require any stress or strain.
  • Types 5, 6 and 7 indicate a stomach upset, infection or some other condition bringing about a diarrhea like situation. The stools are difficult to control and would be passed numerous times.

It is essential to be alarmed when the stools coming out of the anus are extremely thin and ribbon like they may be indicative of colon cancer, scar tissue or any mass in the colon which is obstructing the feces and inhibiting them to acquire the rounded shape of the colon.

The Bristol Stool Chart

is a very effective tool when it comes to classifying human feces. It is a guide which can be referred to from time to time. However, any sudden change in the shape, size, color and texture of stools needs to be followed up with oneai??i??s physician.

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