Symptoms A-Z

Mucousy Stools Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

While mucus in the stool is natural for the digestive process, abnormal mucous stools can be caused from a viral infection, irritable bowel syndrome, or gallstones. Read for more information on causes and treatment options for mucus in poop.

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Mucousy Stools Symptoms

Regular bowel movements are normal, but it is always worth monitoring when our bowel movements include mucousy stool. That's because the presence of excess mucus can indicate a variety of medical conditions. A range of symptoms is typical when mucousy stool is present. [2,3,6]

Symptoms of mucousy stool include:

Mucus is naturally produced by the body to assist in the digestive process. It acts as a lubricant to help food pass from the mouth to the stomach and is critical to the functionality of the colon and intestines. Glands within the rectum also produce mucus. In short, it is not unusual for mucus to coincide with stool. Increased mucus may also accompany short bouts of diarrhea or constipation, but increased amounts of mucus, particularly if prolonged and associated with the mucousy stool symptoms previously mentioned, should be further analyzed to determine a cause and treatment. [3]

Mucousy Stools Causes

There is a big distinction between the importance of various types of mucus the body produces. A runny nose, for example, could be an increase in nasal mucus but not be a cause for concern. [1] When increased mucus is associated with bowel movements, however, it is important to make note of all associated factors to help identify a cause of mucousy stool symptoms. While an increased amount of some types of mucus may be normal, there are significant medical implications to some cases of mucus in stools. [2] Common causes for mucus in stools include:

Environmental causes:

  • Bodily Function: The body naturally creates mucus in the intestine, colon, and rectum. Mucus in stools may be a normal occurrence or isolated incident. [3] Vaginal childbirth may also cause mucus in stools in women. [4]
  • Bodily Issues: Changes to the body can result in how we move our bowels. Fecal incontinence, diarrhea, and constipation can all be caused by natural, short-term changes in the body and cause mucus in stools. [2]

Inflammatory causes:

  • Functional Disorders: Increased mucus in stool can be a byproduct of inflamed bowels. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an example of a disorder which causes such an effect. [5]
  • Autoimmune: Autoimmune disorders typical results from the body's immune system attacking healthy body tissue. Certain disorders, like Crohn disease, impact the digestive system and can cause mucus in stools. [6]

Systemic disease causes:

  • Cancer: As the body fights cancerous cells, particularly in the digestive system, an increased amount of mucus in stool is possible. [7]

10 Possible Mucousy Stools Conditions

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced mucousy stools. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Irritable bowel syndrome (ibs)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder of the large intestine. It is characterized by recurrent abdominal pain and bowel movement issues that can be difficult to treat. Signs and symptoms of IBS are usually not severe or life-threatening, but finding relief may be frustrating.

In order to have a confirmed diagnosis, your IBS should include two of three key symptoms, including improvement of symptoms after defecating, pain that begins when the frequency of stool changes, or pain that begins when the stool changes consistency.

Other key symptoms include abdominal pain and discomfort, as well as bloating, cramping, gassiness, mucus in the stool, and fatigue. These may all be exacerbated by stress, specific foods, or hormonal changes, especially in women.

Treatment focuses on alleviating your symptoms through supplements and medication.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, abdominal pain (stomach ache), nausea or vomiting, constipation, stool changes

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Chronic gallstones

Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that can form in your gallbladder. Your gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ on the right side of your abdomen, just beneath your liver.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: nausea, loss of appetite, unintentional weight loss, vomiting, pain in the upper right abdomen

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Gallstones

Gallstones are small, round deposits found in the gallbladder, the organ where bile is stored. Gallstones can be subclassified a number of ways. Oftentimes, gallstones will be referred to as either cholesterol stones or pigment stones depending on the makeup of the gallstone.

Gallstones can also be class...

Chronic hepatitis c

Chronic hepatitis C is a liver inflammation caused by Hepacivirus C.

If someone is infected with hepatitis C and gets the acute form of the disease, there is about a 50% chance of the disease becoming chronic. This means that the virus remains in the body after the acute, short-term disease is over, and may or may not cause further illness.

Some patients have no symptoms of chronic hepatitis C until years later, when liver damage has developed and the signs of cirrhosis (scarring) begin to appear. Hepatitis C can also lead to liver cancer.

Diagnosis is made through blood tests.

Treatment for chronic hepatitis C involves taking medications prescribed by the physician; avoiding alcohol; and using no supplements or prescription medications without a doctor's clearance. In some cases, a liver transplant will be needed to save the patient's life.

The best prevention is to never share needles, toothbrushes, or other personal care items, and to always practice safe sex. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, nausea, muscle aches, loss of appetite, joint pain

Symptoms that never occur with chronic hepatitis c: pain in the lower right abdomen, pain in the lower left abdomen, pain in the upper left abdomen, pain around the belly button

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic, long-term inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract, specifically involving ulcers and sores of the large intestine (colon) and the rectum. Ulcerative colitis often begins gradually and worsens over time with periods of remission interspers...

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Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is also called pancreatic exocrine cancer, and means that tumors have begun to grow in the exocrine cells of the pancreas. These cells manufacture the enzymes that help digest fats.

The exact cause of any pancreatic cancer is unknown. Risk factors include smoking; obesity; alcoholism; exposure to certain chemicals; family history of the disease; and pre-existing diabetes, pancreatitis, or cirrhosis of the liver.

Symptoms include jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin and eyes; dark urine; pale-colored stools; abdominal and/or back pain; loss of appetite; and unintended weight loss.

Diagnosis is made through patient history; physical examination; blood tests; abdominal imaging such as ultrasound or CT scan; and sometimes biopsy of the pancreas or other minor surgical procedure to help make the diagnosis.

Treatment involves a combination of several methods, including chemotherapy; radiation therapy; surgery to remove all or part of the pancreas as well as to help relieve some of the symptoms of the disease; pain management; and psychological support.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, unintentional weight loss

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Celiac disease

Celiac disease is also called gluten-sensitive enteropathy, coeliac, or sprue. It is an autoimmune response in the gut to gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, and barley.

  • Repeated exposure to gluten causes damage to the lining of the small intestine.

Most at risk are Caucasians with:

  • Family history of celiac disease.
  • Down syndrome.
  • Type 1 diabetes.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Autoimmune thyroid disease.

Symptoms include digestive upset with gas, bloating, and diarrhea. The malnutrition causes fatigue, weight loss, fragile bones, severe skin rash, mouth ulcers, anemia, and damage to the spleen and nervous system.

A swollen belly, failure to thrive, muscle wasting, and learning disabilities are seen in children, and normal growth and development can be severely affected.

Diagnosis is made through blood testing and endoscopy, and sometimes biopsy of the small intestine.

There is no cure for the condition, but celiac disease can be managed by removing all gluten from the diet. Nutritional supplements will be used and sometimes steroid medication is given to help heal the gut.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: fatigue, stomach bloating, nausea, constipation, diarrhea

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Cystic fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disease of the mucus and sweat glands, affecting multiple organs, especially the lungs. The mucus clogs the lungs, causing breathing problems and making it easy for bacteria to grow. This can lead to problems such as repeated lung infections and lung damage.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: shortness of breath, productive cough, salty-tasting skin, decreased exercise tolerance, recurring problem with leaking urine

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Diabetes insipidus

Diabetes insipidus (DI) is caused by a lack of, or decreased sensitivity to the hormone vasopressin. Vasopressin is needed for the kidneys to concentrate urine, making sure you do lose to much fluids. If this function is impaired, it will result in urinating frequently and large amounts, extreme thirst and dehydration.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: fatigue, irritability, constipation, excesive thirst, dry mouth

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Acute pancreatitis

Acute pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas, which creates and releases insulin and glucagon to keep the sugar levels in your blood stable. It also creates the enzymes that digest your food in the small intestine. When these enzymes accidentally get activated in the pancreas, they digest the pancreas itself, causing pain and inflammation.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: constant abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, being severely ill, severe abdominal pain, fever

Symptoms that always occur with acute pancreatitis: constant abdominal pain

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Mucousy Stools Treatments and Relief

Passing stool is one of the most common bodily functions. It is done to remove undigested material from the body. A healthy lifestyle often results in normal bowel movements consisting of normal stool. [3] Mucus in stools may fall in line with this bodily function but may also signify an issue with the body. If the condition is caused by lifestyle choices, it can also be treated by altering lifestyle. If, however, a more significant issue exists, a medical professional will likely need to be involved. [2]

It is recommended that you contact your doctor if any of the following are experienced:

If you have Crohn's disease or IBS, then you may already understand that mucus in stools could happen and have a path to treatment. When excess mucous appears for the first time or exists for a prolonged period, then treatment options may not be so obvious. [5] Steps towards treating mucus in stools can include:

At-home treatments:

  • Diet: Eating healthy and balancing the food groups can help promote positive digestion and minimize mucus in stools. [8] Drinking a lot of water, [8] avoiding fatty foods, [8] and limiting dairy may all be necessary. [8] Taking dietary supplements such as iron, calcium, and vitamins D and B12 may also help. [9,10]
  • Over-the-Counter Medications: Tylenol (acetaminophen) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Advil may help reduce symptoms. [11] Fiber supplements or laxatives may also help promote healthy bowel movements. [8]

Professional treatments:

  • Prescription Medications: Your medical professional may prescribe a range of medications designed to treat the specific cause of mucus in stools. These medications might be taken orally or rectally. [12]
  • Surgery: In extreme cases, and when mucus in stools are linked to larger disorders, surgical procedures may be required to relieve mucus in stools and other symptoms of the disorder. [5]

Often times, the best way to help develop a course of treatment for mucus in stools is to arm your doctor with the best information possible. Observing your stools and noting information about the mucous such as frequency, amount, and duration can provide valuable insights. Mucousy stools do not always indicate an underlying issue but, if it is determined that they do, advanced treatment dictated by medical professionals will help provide the best relief possible. [2]

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Mucousy Stools

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Have you experienced any nausea?
  • Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Have you had any changes in your weight?
  • Any fever today or during the last week?

The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your mucousy stools

Mucousy Stools Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced mucousy stools have also experienced:

  • 10% Abdominal Pain (Stomach Ache)
  • 9% Diarrhea
  • 5% Constipation

People who have experienced mucousy stools were most often matched with:

  • 40% Gallstones
  • 30% Irritable Bowel Syndrome (Ibs)
  • 30% Chronic Gallstones

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Mucousy Stools Symptom Checker

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References

  1. Runny Nose. Mayo Clinic. Published January 11, 2018. Mayo Clinic Link.
  2. Stool Changes: What Do They Mean? When Should I See a Doctor? Cleveland Clinic. Updated October 1, 2012. Cleveland Clinic Link.
  3. Corazziari ES. Intestinal Mucus Barrier in Normal and Inflamed Colon. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. 2009;48 Suppl 2:S54-S55. NCBI Link.
  4. Childbirth and Delivery. iffgd. Updated November 8, 2016. iffgd Link.
  5. Waljee AK, Joyce JC, Wren PA, Khan TM, Higgins PD. Patient Reported Symptoms During an Ulcerative Colitis Flare: A Qualitative Focus Group Study. European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 2009;21(5):558-564. NCBI Link.
  6. Cojocaru M, Cojocaru IM, Silosi I, Vrabie CD. Gastrointestinal Manifestations in Systemic Autoimmune Diseases. Maedica. 2011;6(1):45-51. NCBI Link.
  7. Colorectal Cancer. NHS Foundation Trust: The Royal Marsden. Royal Marsden Link.
  8. Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Controlling Your Symptoms. American Family Physician. 2010;82(12):1449-1451. AAFP Link.
  9. Gasche C, Lomer MC, Cavill I, Weiss G. Iron, Anaemia, and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. Gut. 2004;53(8):1190-1197. NCBI Link.
  10. Parker-Autry CY, Gleason JL, Griffin RL, Markland AD, Richter HE. Vitamin D Deficiency is Associated with Increased Fecal Incontinence Symptoms. International Urogynecology Journal. 2014;25(11):1483-1489. NCBI Link.
  11. Is IBD a Rare Disease? IBD Clinic. IBD Clinic Link.
  12. Bishop S. Variety of Treatment Strategies for Anal Fissure. Mayo Clinic. Published July 15, 2011. Mayo Clinic Link.

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.