The Bristol stool chart is used to determine whether a person's stool (poop) is normal or abnormal based on its shape and how it is formed or released. Health professionals use the chart to help diagnose gastrointestinal (GI) problems such as:irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
On the Bristol Stool Chart, the stools are numbered 1 through 7, from hardest to softest. Normal stools are those in the middle of the table, in the range of 3 to 4.
You can also listen to the tool called:
- Bristol stool scale
- Bristol stool form scale
- Meyers scale
This article discusses how the scale classifies stool and how it is used by healthcare professionals.
Bristol Stools Table
The Bristol Stool Chart can help you decide when you need to see a healthcare provider for diarrhea or constipation. If you find that your stool is consistently at either end of the scale, a health professional can help you make a diagnosis and recommend treatment to improve your symptoms.
Your doctor will probably ask you to look at a chart and indicate the number that best matches the appearance and shape of your bowel movements:
- tip 1: Separate hard parts (difficult to pass)
- tip 2: irregular, hard, sausage-shaped
- Tip 3: Sausage-shaped with cracks on the surface
- Tip 4: Sausage or snake shaped; smooth and soft
- Tip 5: Smooth stains with well-defined edges (easy to iron)
- tip 6: Spongy pieces with irregular edges; gentle
- tip 7: Completely liquid, aqueous, without solid parts
Types 1 and 2
Types 1 and 2 describe stool that is difficult to pass and may indicate thatcold. The stools of these types may be darker in color than normal stools.
Hard stools can have a variety of causes, from a low-fiber diet and insufficient fluid intake to gastrointestinal conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and Parkinson's disease. Certain medications can also cause constipation as a side effect.
Bloating and stomach pains can accompany these types. Stools that are difficult to pass can strain you when you try to have a bowel movement and lead to diverticulosis andhemorrhoids.
Types 3 and 4
Types 3 and 4 describe well-formed, easy-to-pass stools. They are considered "normal" stools, healthy and the most ideal.
Types 5 and 6
These are rare chairs. They may indicate a dietary problem, such as inadequate fiber intake, or they may occur as a result of an infection or other medical condition.
Type 5 stools are considered borderlinediarrhea. They can be typical for some people even in the absence of a gastrointestinal condition. For others, they may suggest mild or developing problems with the digestive system.
A type 6 stool is considered diarrhea even if it is not watery. Diarrhea is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection, although it can also be a side effect of medication or a symptom of a medical condition such as IBD or IBS.
Type 7 describes very loose stools or completely watery diarrhea. With this type, you may feel an urge to have a bowel movement and you may not be able to hold it in. If the diarrhea persists, you may alsodehydrateomalnourished.
This type of diarrhea is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection, such as norovirus orE. coli. Parasitic infections likegiardia lambliait can also cause watery diarrhea.
Certain medical conditions can also cause type 7 stool, including celiac disease, Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis.
Meaning of the color, shape, size and consistency of poop
How to use the Bristol Table Stool
Your doctor may use the Bristol stool chart if you have unusual bowel symptoms or notice a change in your bowel habits or the appearance of your stool.
This includes questions like:
- Alternation between diarrhea and constipation
- abdominal cramps
- bloating and gas
- Nausea or fullness
- Steatorrhea ("fatty"floating chair)
- Other symptoms that indicatemalabsorption, or inability to digest and absorb nutrients
Your doctor may ask you to look at your stool and compare it to the Bristol stool chart. You can then discuss any changes in your bowel habits and the new result at your next visit.
During your visit, your doctor may ask you how often you have a bowel movement and whether you have had a bowel movement more or less often than usual.
They may also ask you other questions about your chair, such as:
- How much do you usually pass with each bowel movement?
- How your feces smell and what colors are the most common
- I want them to realizesangreor mucus in the stool
- If their droppings stick to the toilet bowl and it is easy to remove all the remaining droppings
Your doctor may also examine your stool sample and order other tests as needed. For example, I can make astool cultureto find out what, if any, type of bacteria is present in the stool.
They can also useroman criterionto see if your symptoms match those of afunctional gastrointestinal disorderlike SII.
A modified version of the chart can also be used for children. Includes drawings that children can use to describe their stools when evaluating intestinal problems such as constipation and soiling.
In most cases, stools are considered regular if they occur one to three times a day or just three times a week. But what is considered a "normal" bowel movement varies from person to person, and there are many factors that influence bowel habits.
A person's bowel habits are influenced by many factors and can change from day to day.
For example, your bowel habits may change due to:
- A trip
- Changes that occur with age.
- How active are you or how much exercise do you get?
- A disease like gastroenteritis
- Changes in hormone levels, such as those that occur during pregnancy or menstruation
- More serious health problems, such as inflammatory bowel disease or colon cancer
Improve gut health
Gut health is closely related to diet and exercise. Often simple changes like drinking more fluids, eating a high-fiber diet, and getting regular exercise will help you have easier bowel movements. It's also a good idea to pay attention to the foods you eat. For some people, fatty foods, alcohol, and caffeine can cause changes in the stool.
If you are taking a new medicine, talk to your doctor about any changes in your stool. If your medication causes diarrhea or constipation, you may be able to change your dose or switch to a different medication.
If lifestyle changes don't help, try training your body to have regular bowel movements. You can start sitting on the toilet at the same time every day, even if you don't think you need to go. Maintaining a regular schedule can often help normalize bowel movements and make voiding easier.
Sitting correctly on the toilet can also help prevent straining. Try to relax, straighten your spine and lean forward. It can also help you keep your knees higher than your hips. This may mean using a stool.
The Bristol stool chart is a tool your doctor uses to assess your stool. A 7-point scale helps describe the shape and consistency of the stool.
Based on the results, your doctor can assess your bowel patterns and habits and order additional tests as needed to find out what might be causing your GI problems.
The scale is also used as a research tool to investigate gastrointestinal disorders and how different treatments for these problems work.
Should I worry about a floating stool?
Floating stools by themselves are not always a cause for concern. It can only mean that your body has excess gas. This can happen when you change your diet.
However, floating stools are also associated with malabsorption (not absorbing enough nutrients from food), gastrointestinal infections, pancreatitis,and mixed irritable bowel syndrome.It may be worth contacting your doctor if you experience significant or unexpected weight loss.
How does diverticulosis affect stool?
Diverticulosis affects the stool making it hard and difficult to pass, which can lead to constipation and can also be the result of underlying constipation. It usually causes rectal bleeding, but this bleeding is usually painless. After having a bowel movement, the stool may show signs of bright red or brown blood.(Video) Bristol at Archidex 2019
How does colon cancer affect stool?
Colon cancer affects the stool, changing its consistency, shape, and color. These changes may be one of the first signs of colon cancer. The stool can be very loose and cause pain, cramping, and bleeding. There may also be a change in bowel movements, where you need to go more or less often.
Learn more:Colon cancer and poop: signs to watch out for
What causes type 6 on the Bristol stool scale?
A type six on the Bristol stool scale can be caused by mild diarrhea and a lack of fiber. Mild diarrhea usually goes away on its own, but if it doesn't improve after a few days, a health professional can help treat the problem.(Video) Theory test 2023: official DVSA guide