It might not be pretty, but what’s in your toilet bowl can reveal a lot about your health. For those with Crohn’s disease, abnormal stools tend to be especially common, especially during a flare.
Crohn’s symptoms often include pain, diarrhea, constipation, and blood or mucus in your poop. Full disclosure, it can also show up in a whole rainbow of colors. 🌈 💩
Here’s the deal with Crohn’s disease and No. 2s.
Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that typically manifests in the small intestine and colon, but it can affect all parts of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This is why your poop color, frequency, and consistency are often affected.
Symptom severity can range from mild to debilitating and may change a lot over time. In extreme cases, the disease can cause life threatening flares.
TBH, the pros don’t know what causes Crohn’s disease, who’s most likely to get it, or a tried-and-true cure. But there have been serious treatment advances in the last few decades to help manage Crohn’s.
Crohn’s disease may cause pooping probs like:
- stomach pain
- constipation or infrequent bathroom trips
- diarrhea or frequent bowel movements
- pain or cramping before going No. 2
Crohn’s disease poop may also appear:
- loose or watery
- abnormally hard or clumpy
- covered in mucus
- abnormal in color (especially yellowish)
The color of Crohn’s poop can be quite a range. Your No. 2s may also appear totally normal. Here’s what you might experience.
Yellow or white
Yellow or white mucus-covered poop may be caused from Crohn’s due to fat malabsorption. It could show up as streaks on the stool or cover it completely. This can happen when your body isn’t absorbing fat-soluble nutrients very well, which causes your body to make mucus to protect your intestine’s inner lining and make it easier to pass the stool.
If you don’t have other symptoms like stomach pain, mucusy poo is not typically a sign of concern. The occasional mucus-covered stool could also signal a change in diet or higher stress levels.
Red or black
Crohn’s complications could lead to anal fissures, skin tags, fistulas, or abscesses that lead to traces of blood in the stool. Blood can appear bright red to practically black.
Dark, almost black-colored blood means the blood is coming from higher up in the GI, which could indicate a medical emergency. (Call your doc ASAP 🚨.)
If your blood is a brighter red, it’s coming from lower in the GI tract. While you should def still call a doc about brighter-colored blood, you won’t typically need to rush to the ER.
If your poop’s bright green, pink, orange, or another color, it may be due to what you ate. Some people with Crohn’s have malabsorption, which basically means that your bod isn’t completely digesting your food and therefore totally absorbing its nutrients. So, if you have Crohn’s and you eat food with a vibrant color, say, spinach, your poop might look pretty green.
If this happens to you, talk with your doc about potential treatments.
It depends. Some people with Crohn’s will hit up the bathroom more often than those without it. In severe Crohn’s disease cases, diarrhea can happen many times a day.
For others with Crohn’s, stools are actually less frequent than average. This could be caused by a narrowing of the intestines, which makes the stool harder to pass.
If you have Crohn’s, it can help to understand what pooping frequency is typical during a flare-up compared to when the disease is in remission. This can help you learn to manage symptoms and live more comfortably.
- Medications. Oral drugs, pills, injections, and infusions may help treat the underlying inflammation and ease symptoms (like corticosteroids, immunomodulators, and biologics). Sometimes, antidiarrheal meds are used, but should only be taken as instructed by your doc.
- Bowel rest. When meds don’t work, doctors may recommend a period of bowel rest. Basically, you’ll be put on a liquid diet to help soothe your GI tract. But plz don’t try this one without support from a pro!
- Dietary changes. Some folks manage Crohn’s symptoms with dietary changes. The “Crohn’s disease diet” may vary, but often includes lots of low fiber fruits, lean protein, refined grains, and fully-cooked vegetables. It often means skipping out on lactose, sugars, high fat and fried foods, caffeine, spicy food, and hard-to-digest fibers.
- Probiotics, prebiotics, and supplements. Some people take natural remedies, probiotics, or prebiotics to support their gut health and soothe Crohn’s symptoms. Just know that research is limited, and you should still get the A-OK from your doc.
- Essential oils. Even though there’s not a ton of research to suggest that essential oils benefit Crohn’s, at the very least, they could be soothing. Wormwood, patchouli, peppermint, frankincense, and basil in particular are thought to help. But unlike most MLMs, we can’t say they’re 100 percent effective.
- Cannabis or CBD. OK, we know Pete Davidson said weed helped his Crohn’s, but he’s obvi far from a credible source. Some folks swear cannabis and CBD helps ease Crohn’s symptoms, but there’s not a lot of research to prove this. There’s also the whole “is it legal” thing. Proceed with caution if you want to use cannabis or CBD medicinally, and make sure your doc is cool with it and it’s legal in your state.
If you think you might have Crohn’s or another digestive issue, it’s a good idea to visit a healthcare professional for a professional diagnosis. See a doc if:
- You have diarrhea or constipation that goes on for more than a couple days.
- You have diarrhea or constipation that comes and goes for weeks or months.
- You have frequent stomach pain, whether sudden and severe or subtle and long-term.
- You have blood in your stool.
- You’re already diagnosed with Crohn’s and have new symptoms.
People diagnosed with Crohn’s typically see a healthcare professional regularly, about every 6 months to a year to help manage symptoms.
A doctor can take a blood and/or stool sample to test for things like inflammation, which may help the pros arrive at a Crohn’s diagnosis. They may also take any of the following tests:
- a colonoscopy
- a biopsy
- an MRI or CT scan
Crohn’s disease is a type of IBD that can cause changes to your stool. It might look different, occur more or less frequently, or have blood or mucus mixed in.
If your poop looks diff in general, it’s a good idea to see a doc for a professional diagnosis.