Q&A: Why do I get diarrhoea after drinking? And should I be checking my poo?
Welcome to our weekly Q&A.
The Better Gut is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Hello and welcome to the Better Gut, your community-based platform committed to unlocking the powerful benefits of good gut health.
Today we’ll be answering the questions: ‘should I be checking my poo?’ & ‘why do I get diarrhea after drinking alcohol?’. If you have any specific questions you’d like answered by our gut-health experts, please submit them here or in the comments below. Let’s get stuck in…
Q: What is the Bristol Stool Scale and Should I be Checking my Poo?
The Bristol Stool Scale was developed in 1997 at the University of Bristol - it’s a diagnostic medical tool to classify stools into 7 categories. The chart is designed to help doctors measure the time it takes for food to pass through your body - intestinal transit time. It therefore serves as a useful point of reference to discuss your poo with a doctor in the event you don’t have a sample - it helps doctors to diagnose digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhoea and IBS or to evaluate the efficacy of treatments for bowel diseases. It can also be a great tool for individuals wanting to monitor and improve their bowel movements.
The type of stool depends on the time it spends in the colon & is dependent on your diet, fluids, medications & lifestyle. Everyone has different bowel habits, but the important thing is that your poo is soft & easy to pass - like types 3 & 4 on the chart.
Types 1-2 of the chart indicate constipation.
Types 3-4 are ideal as they are easier to pass
Types 5-7 may indicate diarrhoea or a condition requiring urgent attention
Other things to look out for are the colour of your poo, the pace & the regularity of trips to the toilet.
When it comes to colour, earthy tones are best: medium to dark brown, resulting from iron-rich pigments released from broken down red blood cells & bile. Occasionally, greenish poop may appear, but this is nothing to worry about unless it becomes persistent - this might mean food is moving through your body too quickly. Light yellow poo can indicate infection or inflammation, your bile duct may be blocked or your body may not be absorbing nutrients properly. Black or red poop can occur if you eat licorice, beetroot, a crazy coloured drink or if you take iron supplements. It can also indicate bleeding in your digestive tract caused by more serious issues (please visit a doctor should this occur).
The pace should be steady & the time it takes for your food to make it into your poop is linked to the diversity of bacteria in your gut (the more diverse, the better & the steadier the pace). Finally, consistency - poo habits vary from person to person, but as a rule of thumb, any major changes to your personal ‘normal’ could indicate a more serious problem that should be investigated by a doctor.
So, to peek or not to peek at your poo? I’d definitely recommend keeping a regular eye on your poo to see what it tells you. If you are concerned or something is out of sync, do make sure you speak to your doctor to get to the bottom of it (pardon the pun).
Q: Why do I get diarrhoea after drinking alcohol?
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial