Mucus is a jelly-like substance that is secreted by the mucous membranes that line several body cavities such as the respiratory tract, digestive tract, and the urogenital tract. In case of the digestive tract, mucus helps lubricate the lining of the large intestine. It also helps the passage of fecal matter during a bowel movement. Though a small amount of mucus in stool is not indicative of a digestive disorder, consult your healthcare provider in case of the presence of increased mucus in stool, especially when it is accompanied by symptoms such as pain, bleeding, or changes in bowel habits.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The exact cause of IBS is not known, but it is believed that in case of individuals affected by this digestive disorder, the nerves in the intestine might be too sensitive. Affected individuals experience symptoms such as abdominal cramping, bloating, change in bowel habits, etc. Some individuals might experience constipation, while others might get affected by diarrhea. At times, the affected individual might sometimes experience diarrhea, and constipation at other times. The symptoms might appear soon after meals. Other symptoms of IBS include the feeling of incomplete evacuation of the bowel and the presence of whitish mucus in the stool.
This is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the large intestine and rectum. It leads to ulcers in the colon, which in turn might give rise to symptoms such as bloody stool, presence of pus and mucus in the stool, rectal pain, abdominal pain and cramping, weight loss, diarrhea, urgency to defecate, inability to pass stool despite the urgency to defecate, etc.
Crohn's disease is also an inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any part of the digestive tract. The exact cause of this digestive disorder is still unknown, but it is believed that genetic factors or an abnormal immune response might be responsible for causing this condition. The symptoms of Crohn's disease include pus or blood in stool, abdominal pain, abdominal cramps, reduced appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, increased risk for fistula, etc.
Hemorrhoids are characterized by venous swelling at or inside the anal sphincter, which in turn leads to pain, anal itching, blood and mucus in stool, etc.
Intestinal parasites could include helminths such as tapeworms, pinworms, roundworms, etc., and protozoa such as giardia and cryptosporidium. When these parasites multiply, these could give rise to symptoms such as dysentery (loose stools containing blood and mucus), abdominal pain, diarrhea, gas, bloating, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, etc.
Consumption of food and water that is contaminated with bacterial toxins or parasitic worms can lead to food poisoning. Infection of the gastrointestinal tract by bacterial agents such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, Yersinia, Shigella, Escherichia coli, etc., may lead to digestive tract problems. Symptoms of food poisoning include abdominal cramps, abdominal pain, fever, watery diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, etc.
Diverticula refer to small, bulging pouches that could form in the inner wall of the intestine. It is believed that these form at weak spots in the intestine. Weak spots could form due to the passage of very hard stool. Thus, individuals affected by chronic constipation are at a risk. When these pouches become infected or inflamed, one is diagnosed with diverticulitis. People affected by this condition often complain of abdominal tenderness, bloating, pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, etc. Sometimes, affected individuals might notice the presence of mucus in their stools.
Bacterial/viral infections or mechanical obstruction (adhesions, hernia, twisting of the intestine, presence of a tumor, impacted stool, etc.) could lead to partial or complete blockage of the intestine. This can give rise to symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, abdominal cramps, etc. The secretion of the mucus increases to facilitate the passage of stool.
Since the presence of mucus in stool could occur due to a wide range of reasons, affected individuals must consult a doctor to ascertain the underlying cause, and get it treated.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.