Mucus is a thick, jelly-like substance, and your body primarily uses mucus to protect and lubricate your delicate tissues and organs. It’s also used to reduce possible damage caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Along with that, mucus can protect against stomach acid and other potentially harmful fluids or irritants in the body.
You shouldn’t be overly worried if you notice mucus in poop because the presence of mucus in poop is fairly common. When you are healthy, mucus is typically clear, making it difficult to notice, and it may also appear white or yellow. Having a noticeable increase in the mucus in your poop may be the symptom of an underlying health issue, such as:
- Crohn’s disease
- Cystic fibrosis
- Ulcerative colitis
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Intestinal infection
- Parasitic infection
- Malabsorption issues
- Anal fissures
- Anal fistulas
- Colorectal cancer
If you notice excess mucus in your poop, you should educate yourself on what symptoms to watch out for and when you should see your doctor.
When Is Mucus in Poop Not Normal?
A large amount of visible mucus in your poop isn’t normal and might be a sign of an underlying problem. If you begin seeing mucus in your poop, the levels are probably already elevated. This doesn’t necessarily indicate you have a problem, but it’s something you should monitor. Excess mucus in the stool is sometimes accompanied by other symptoms, which may be a sign of a bigger problem. These symptoms include:
- Blood or pus in the poop
- Abdominal pain, cramping, or bloating
- Changes in bowel movements or habits
What Causes Abnormal Mucus in Poop?
Excess mucus in poop can be a sign of a gastrointestinal (GI) problem. An intestinal mucus layer protects the rest of your body from food residue and potential pathogens in your intestines. The World Journal of Gastroenterology states that if an inflammatory process breaks down this mucosal layer, you might excrete mucus with your poop. This gives pathogens within your colon easier access to your body, potentially increasing your chances of becoming ill.
Although viruses such as the common cold or flu often result in increased mucus production, this typically only affects your respiratory system. It rarely results in increased mucus in the poop. Dehydration and constipation may also produce excess mucus, or at least give the appearance of increased mucus. These changes may happen suddenly, and symptoms may resolve on their own or with medication. Changes in mucus levels may also be the result of an inflammatory gastrointestinal condition that requires medical treatment.
How Is a Diagnosis Made?
There’s no one-size-fits-all treatment for abnormal mucus in poop. To treat excess mucus, your doctor will need to diagnose and treat any underlying problems, which may be related to inflammation in your colon. Most doctors will begin with a physical exam and a blood test. The test results will give your doctor an understanding of your basic physical health. If additional information is needed, your doctor may request some more tests. These tests may include:
- Blood test
- Stool culture
- An imaging test, such as an X-ray, a pelvic MRI, or a CT scan
- Sweat electrolytes test
For some people, a diagnosis may be reached quickly. For others, finding the underlying cause may take several rounds of testing and examination.
How Is Mucus in Poop Treated?
Once your doctor has made a diagnosis, they will prescribe treatment. Lifestyle changes may resolve the issue for some. Your doctor may suggest the following treatments:
- Increase your fluid intake
- Eat foods rich in probiotics or supplements that contain probiotics, such as Bifidobacterium or Lactobacillus.
- Consume anti-inflammatory foods, such as low-acid and non-spicy foods
- Get a healthy balance of fiber, carbohydrates, and fat in your diet
Prescription medications and ongoing treatment may be necessary for people with chronic conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome. A combination of lifestyle changes, medications, and possible surgical procedures may help relieve conditions such as anal fissures and fistulas. If your doctor discovers cancer, you may be referred to an oncologist. This specialist will treat your cancer, and their treatment may reduce and ease the symptoms you’re experiencing.