What is mucus in stool?
Mucus is a smooth, thick substance produced in many places throughout the body, including in the lining of the digestive tract. Mucus lubricates surfaces and allows materials to pass smoothly. Some amount of mucus in the stool is normal; however, significant amounts of mucus and mucus accompanied by diarrhea, pain or blood may signify an intestinal condition such as infection or inflammation. Increased amounts of mucus in the stool can also occur with cancers of the colon or rectum or with bowel obstruction.
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Inflammatory conditions of the bowel, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, can cause abdominal cramping and bloating. Diarrhea is common with these conditions, although constipation can also occur. In addition, blood may be present in the stool as a result of ongoing damage to the intestinal lining.
Similar symptoms can occur with irritable bowel syndrome; however, since it is not an inflammatory condition and the lining of the intestine remains intact, blood in the stool is rare with this condition. When associated with a gastrointestinal infection, mucus in the stool often accompanies diarrhea and abdominal cramping. You may also have blood in the stool and a fever.
Conditions of the anus and rectum such as anal fissures (tears or cracks), anal fistulas (abnormal holes or tubes between organs or tissues), and rectal ulcers can also cause mucus in the stool. In such cases, the stool may appear normal or may be bloody. Pain with passing stool may become significant enough that you avoid bowel movements, which can lead to constipation and possible fecal impaction.
Increased amounts of mucus in the stool or mucus in the stool accompanied by other symptoms can be an indication of a serious medical problem. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have a high fever or bloody stool, or if you develop symptoms of dehydration such as decreased urination, dark urine, increased thirst, fatigue, and light-headedness.
If mucus in your stool is persistent, especially if it is accompanied by other changes in your bowel movements or fever, or if it worsens or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.
What other symptoms might occur with mucus in stool?
Mucus in stool may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the digestive tract may also involve other body systems.
Digestive tract symptoms that may occur along with mucus in stoolMucus in the stool may accompany other symptoms affecting the digestive tract including:
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What causes mucus in stool?
The digestive tract normally produces some mucus to help digested food and waste slide through it. Abnormal amounts of mucus in the stool may be caused by a variety of conditions ranging from inflammation and infection to obstruction and cancer.