Dr Arikawe Adeolu, a medical practitioner, Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, Abuja, has advised the public to always observe the colour of their stool to determine their health status.
Adeolu gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.
According to him, a change in colour, shape, size, consistency and frequency of stool can indicate possible health conditions.
Adeolu also said that the normal colour of stool should be brown; adding that professional medical assistance should also be sought if the colour changed and remained consistent more than two days.
He said that since the colour, shape, size, consistency and frequency of an individual’s stool gave a lot of background information about underlying health conditions in the body, it should not be ignored.
Adeolu said that the pigment present in bile was the reason the stool maintained its brown colour as the pigment mixes with the stool when they come in contact.
He said that if for any reason this pigment failed to mix with the stool to give it the brown colour, the stool would appear pale having an off white colour.
Adeolu said: “In this situation where the stool turns off-white, you are looking at some form of blockage of the bile duct.
“The blockage prevents the bile from getting to the intestine to mix with the stool to give it that brownish colour.
“Once you notice a consistent change in your colour of stool over a two day period, it is important you go to the hospital so that you can be thoroughly assessed by a health professional to find out the cause.
“The colour of stool can give background information into some underlying health conditions in the body.
“Your stool can say a lot about your health and there are a lot of things to consider when one wants to make an assessment of one’s stool to determine ones health condition.
“The colour of stool is just one factor to consider when assessing ones health; there is need to consider the shape, size, consistency and the frequency of the stool.
“The ease of passage of stool can also give information about any underlying health condition.’’
He said that some stool could have yellowish colouration and could appear oily, stressing that in such situation, the individual could be having a health condition known as malabsorption.
He said that if the stool colour changed to black, it could mean that the individual is consuming some type of supplement or that such individual had some form of internal bleeding.
Adeolu said that the bleeding could occur in the intestine usually high up in the intestine, a condition known as upper gastro-intestinal bleeding.
According to him, the black stool condition is normally referred to as tarry black stool.
He said that when the stool appeared red, it indicated that there was blood in the stool which could be as a result of bleeding in the lower part of the intestine.
The medical expert also observed that the red colour in the stool could be from the rectum or heamorroids.