Mucus is used to keep these areas of the body moist and helps to move food through the esophagus into the stomach. It is normal for a small amount of mucus to attach to food moving through the digestive system and be secreted with the stool. However, if a large amount of mucus appears in the stool this is a sign that the digestive system is under distress. Examining the symptoms that accompany this appearance of excessive mucus can help you determine the underlying cause of its appearance.
Causes of Mucus in Stool
Constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements a week. This may be caused by an inadequate intake of fluids, poor diet, prolonged use of certain drugs, lack of physical activity, misuse of laxatives and other conditions. In addition to failing to pass a bowel movement constipation may cause difficulty passing stool because it has become hard, bloating, pain or an incomplete feeling when you eventually make a bowel movement. Those that frequently suffer from constipation are more susceptible to developing anal fissures, rectal prolapse or hemorrhoids. If a rectal prolapse occurs it may increase the presence of mucus in the stool.
There is a large amount of bacteria that help to maintain the balance of microbial flora essential to digestion. If these essential bacteria become overwhelmed by pathogens it can impact the body’s ability to digest food properly. Viruses, bacteria or parasites may enter the digestive system and cause gastroenteritis, leading to inflammation of the intestines or stomach. This infection may also lead to bloating, abdominal cramps, fever, nausea and mucus in diarrhea.
3. Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease which can cause the lining of the rectum and large intestine to become inflamed. This can lead to lesions or open sores in this area as the disease advances. These lesions may bleed and cause the patient to experience diarrhea with blood or mucus appearing in the stool. Ulcerative colitis may also cause weight loss, constipation, rectal pain, cramps and abdominal pain.
4. Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease is another inflammatory bowel disease that may impact any portion of the digestive tract. This chronic inflammation may be caused by a virus, bacterium or an abnormal response of the immune system. Those suffering from Crohn’s disease will frequently notice mucus or blood in the stool, particularly when anal fissures appear. Those that have this disease will also experience pain when they attempt a bowel movement, watery stool, loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss and abdominal cramping.
5. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Doctors are unsure what leads to the development of irritable bowel syndrome but it is believed that acute gastrointestinal infections can trigger this condition and the symptoms will be increased by stress. This condition may be diarrhea-predominant or constipation-predominant. Some experience an alternating pattern of these symptoms. When these symptoms occur it may cause cramping, bloating, changes in bowel habits or pain in the abdomen. Those with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome are more likely to see mucus in the stool when symptoms flare.
6. Bowel Obstruction
An obstruction in the bowel may include a gallstone, adhesion, tumor, impacted stool (mucus in stool included), abnormal twisting of the intestine or intussusception. This obstruction will make it difficult for the body to dispose of waste properly. Bowel obstructions will cause abdominal pain, distention, cramping, constipation, an inability to pass gas or vomiting. A bowel obstruction is considered a medical emergency and should be addressed by a medical professional right away.
This term refers to the sac-like structure that may form in the large intestine. This pouch is caused when waste in the large intestine becomes hard and begins to put pressure on the colon walls. This condition is typically asymptomatic, but it may cause mucus or blood in the feces, constipation, flatulence, bloating, abdominal pain or constipation. If the pouches from diverticulitis become inflamed it may cause fever, sharp abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or a distended abdomen.
Natural Remedies for Mucus in Stool
It is normal to experience some mucus in the stool so it is only advisable to take steps to prevent this condition if the mucus appears to be excessive or is accompanied by other conditions.
- Incorporating psyllium seeds or a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses dissolved in hot water into your daily diet can help to reduce the appearance of mucus in the stool.
- Improving your fiber intake and maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle that minimizes stress can help to encourage healthy digestion. Foods such as raspberries, black beans or bran cereal contain high amounts of fiber that are ideal for this purpose.
- Avoid spicy or processed foods as these can put a strain on the digestive system. Avoid beverages such as coffee or tea that are high in caffeine as this increases digestive stress.
When to See a Doctor
If you feel uncomfortable or something feels abnormal it is worth speaking to your doctor to ensure that there is nothing more severe causing your symptoms.
- If the amount of mucus in the stool appears to be excessive or is accompanied by blood this can be a sign of a more serious underlying problem.
- If natural remedies do not appear to be having an impact on restoring your bowel movements to normal, you need medical help.