Sticky Poop: Likely Causes and Treatment

One way to assess your general health is by taking a look at your poop. The color, texture, odor, and shape of your poop can tell a lot about your health.

Sometimes, poop may stick to the side of the toilet or be hard to wipe when cleaning up, requiring an extra effort to flush. This could be caused by your diet or sometimes by medical conditions.

In this article, we will be discussing the different causes of this type of stools and its treatment.

What Causes Sticky Poop?

1. Diet:

When you ingest more fat than your body can absorb, the excess is passed out in stool. A high-fat diet can lead to bulkier, thicker and sticky poop. Sometimes, it might be yellow colored with a foul smell.

2. Bile Production Problems:

Bile is a greenish liquid that is produced in the liver, stored in the gall bladder, and secreted into the small intestine. Its function is to emulsify fat for easy digestion. If there’s a problem with the production, storage or transportation of bile, fat may remain undigested and be passed out in poop.

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This can happen in liver disease or when there are stones in the gall bladder.

The pancreas produces some of the digestive enzymes that help to digest fats. If the pancreas is inflamed, it can sometimes lead to malabsorption and more fat in poop.

3. Inflammatory Bowel Disease

This is a term used to define two diseases- Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In these conditions, there are patches of inflammation on the surface of the intestines that can affect digestion. If it affects fat digestion, it can result in sticky poop.

4. Celiac Disease:

In this condition, the body is unable to digest gluten. When food containing gluten (from typical grains like wheat) is ingested, it goes through the digestive process relatively unchanged and can lead to pasty stools. In addition, it can trigger other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, flatulence, and diarrhea.

5. Peptic Ulcer

In peptic ulcer, there is an erosion of the surface of the stomach and small intestinal walls by the stomach’s acid. It typically occurs when the thick preventive mucus barrier is broken down by an infection or by medications like NSAIDs.

This can lead to internal bleeding. Blood from the ulcer may flow down the intestines and get altered by the digestive process, turning red blood to a black, sticky, tarry substance.

6. Lactose intolerance:

In this condition, there’s inadequate secretion lactase, an enzyme that breaks down lactose- the sugar in milk. It can cause a thick, sludgy, sticky poop when dairy products are ingested.

When To See A Doctor

If your stools are repeatedly sticky or pasty, you should see your doctor. Your doctor will ask some questions to try to understand all your symptoms and subsequently examine you with an emphasis on your abdomen.

Some tests may be requested in order to achieve the right diagnosis.

These may include:

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  • Blood tests
  • Stool analysis
  • Ultrasound scan
  • CT Scan
  • Endoscopy- a flexible tube with a camera is used to view the internal organs

Treatment

The treatment of sticky poop is usually dependent on its cause. If it’s a dietary problem, a change in diet can stop the symptom. If a specific medical condition is identified as the cause, the symptom should go away when the underlying condition is treated.

In general, here are some tips to help you maintain healthy bowel movements:

  1. Lower your fat intake, adopt a balanced diet instead.
  2. Drink enough water.
  3. Try to exercise daily.
  4. Probiotics can be beneficial (discuss with your doctor before starting them)
  5. Eat fruits and vegetables like carrots, oranges, and spinach.
  6. If you have celiac disease or lactose intolerance, avoid gluten or dairy products respectively.

References:

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Zubair Abdulahi, MBBS

Dr. Zubair Abdulahi is a licensed medical practitioner with a degree in medicine and surgery who is interested in using new media to influence health decisions by providing information on health queries. He has written for top publications in Nigeria like the Guardian. When he's not working as a doctor, he enjoys the game of football as well as sight-seeing and listening to classical music.
Zubair Abdulahi, MBBS
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