Your stomach and gastric system are powerful organs, able to digest and handle various foods you consume every day. In fact, stomach acid is so potent that there’s only one thing that’s stopping it from eating itself — gastric mucus. Thus, mucus in stool is often nothing to worry about, even when the gastric system is functioning correctly.
Gastric mucus is a barrier that covers the stomach walls and protects your guts from the digestive enzymes used to handle food. It also greases your guts, working as a lubricant that helps move the food along and pass excrement. Because of that, noticing some mucus in your stool is normal, no matter if it’s clear, white, or yellow.
However, in certain cases, excess mucus in stool may be a reason for concern. Here are the most common causes that may require medical attention.
The Most Common Causes of Excess Mucus in Stool
In case you have ulcerative colitis, the mucus membrane of your colon is inflamed. This causes the formation of small sores called ulcers.
If you experience stomach ache that is even stronger when you’re hungry, you might be suffering from ulcers. These can contain blood, pus, and mucus. Naturally, excess bloody mucus in stool is a potential symptom as well.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS is the second most common cause of excess mucus in stool. It’s more prevalent in men, especially those who suffer from the diarrhea-dominant type of IBS.
The link between the mucus in the stool and IBS is still being researched at the moment. However, what the science knows so far suggests that it is not a sign of any major complications.
This is another inflammatory bowel disease that can cause abnormal quantities of mucus in stool. If the mucus is accompanied by abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and a bloody stool, this could be a sign that you have Crohn’s disease. Consult a medical professional right away.
Two types of ostomy surgery — colostomy and ileostomy — can cause mucus in stool. This shouldn’t be a major concern, though. Despite the fact that the stool goes to the stoma, the body is still producing mucus that needs to be expelled somewhere. Excess fluids that gather in the guts can cause discomfort and a feeling of pressure.
Some infections caused by Salmonella, Shigella and other types of bacteria can also generate an increased level of mucus in stool. These are followed by other symptoms as well, such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and cramps.
Bowel obstructions have many causes, like scar tissue, hernia, gallstones, and even tumor. No matter the cause, the symptoms are the same. Constipation, cramps, vomiting, and abdominal distension, paired with mucus in the stool, may suggest a bowel obstruction.
Different forms of food intolerance, such as lactose or glucose intolerance, can also cause you to have larger quantities of mucus in stool. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, gas, cramps, and diarrhea.
Should You Worry If You Notice Some Mucus in Your Stool?
As stated above, a small amount of mucus in the stool is entirely normal and nothing to worry about. However, if you notice a lot of mucus on a regular basis, seek medical attention. Mucus in stool, accompanied by bleeding or severe changes in your bowel habits, is a cause for concern. You should contact your doctor if you notice the mucus has a strange color, as well.