What is Mucus(Stool)?
Mucus is a thick, jelly-like substance. Your body primarily uses mucus to protect and lubricate your delicate tissues and organs.
It’s also used to reduce the damage that may be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Mucus can also protect against stomach acid or other potentially harmful fluids or irritants.
The presence of mucus in stools can be common. When you’re generally healthy, mucus is typically clear and appears in such small amounts that it’s often difficult to notice.
But if you start to see a noticeable increase in mucus in your stools, it may be the symptom of an underlying health issue.
Two common causes of mucus in your stool are dehydration and constipation. These two conditions may cause the normal mucus in your colon to leave the body. Mucus caused by these issues may resolve on its own or with medication.
Changes in mucus levels may also be the result of an inflammatory gastrointestinal condition that requires medical treatment. Some of these conditions include:
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that affects your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Early symptoms may include diarrhea or fatigue, as well as an excess of mucus in the stool (due to a disrupted mucus barrier in the inflamed intestines).
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that results in the buildup of thick, sticky mucus in your lungs, pancreas, liver, or intestines. Cystic fibrosis may also cause mucus in the stool.
Like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease. It’s a chronic condition that causes inflammation in your large intestine or rectum.
An increase in mucus secretion often occurs when the body is dealing with the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, which in turn can increase the mucus in your stools.
Irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the name for a group of symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramping, and altered bowel habits that occur outside of a disease diagnosis.
Currently, research suggests that mucus in the stool may be connected to the diarrhea someone experienced as a symptom of their IBS.
Intestinal infection can also lead to mucus in the stool. Examples include infection from bacteria such as salmonella and shigellosis, which can occur from eating contaminated food.
Researchers think bacteria may stimulate mucus production, causing mucusy stools. Severe diarrhea can also increase mucus in stools.
Malabsorption issues occur when your bowel is unable to properly absorb certain nutrients. Conditions related to malabsorption include lactose intolerance and celiac disease.
Colon or rectal cancer
Colon or rectal cancer starts in your colon or rectum and may cause symptoms such as blood in your stool, mucus in your stool, rectal bleeding, and unexplained weight loss.
There’s no one-size-fits-all treatment for abnormal mucus in the stool. To treat the 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 more tests. These may include:
- stool culture
- an imaging test, such as an X-ray or a CT scan, or pelvic MRI scan
- sweat electrolytes test (typically done if there’s possibility of cystic fibrosis)
For some people, a diagnosis may be reached quickly. For others, the underlying cause may not be determined despite extensive testing.