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Characteristics of Stool

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  1. Characteristics of Stool Heather Nelson, RN

  2. Stool: Color • Normal: • Adult: brown • Infant: yellow

  3. Stool: Color • Abnormal: • Clay or white: Absence of bile pigment (bile obstruction) or diagnostic study using barium • Black or tarry: Drug (e.g., iron), bleeding from upper gastrointestinal tract (e.g., stomach, small intestine), diet high in red meat and dark green vegetables (e.g., spinach)

  4. Stool: Color • Abnormal: • Red: Bleeding from lower gastrointestinal tract (e.g., rectum), some foods (e.g. beets) • Pale: Malabsorption of fats, diet high in milk and milk products and low in meat

  5. Stool: Consistency • Normal: Formed, soft, semisolid, moist • Abnormal: Hard, dry, constipated stool • Dehydration, decreased intestinal motility resulting from lack of fiber in diet, lack of exercise, emotional upset, laxative abuse • Abnormal: Diarrhea • Increased intestinal motility (e.g., irritation of the colon by bacteria)

  6. Stool: Shape • Normal: Cylindrical (contour of rectum) about 2.5 cm (1 inch) in diameter in adults • Abnormal: Narrow, pencil-shaped, or stringlike stool • Obstructive conditional of the rectum

  7. Stool: Amount • Normal: Varies with diet • About 100 to 400 g per day

  8. Stool: Odor • Normal: Aromatic, affected by ingested food and person’s own bacterial flora • Abnormal: Pungent • Infection, blood

  9. Stool: Constituents • Normal: Small amounts of undigested roughage, sloughed dead bacteria and epithelial cells, fat, protein, dried constituents of digestive juices (e.g., bile pigments), inorganic matter (e.g., calcium, phosphates)

  10. Stool: Constituents • Abnormal: • Pus: bacterial infection • Mucus: inflammatory condition • Parasites • Blood: gastrointestinal bleeding • Large quantities of fat: malabsorption • Foreign objects: accidental ingestion