The Bristol stool scale or Bristol stool chart is a medical aid designed to classify the form of human faeces into seven categories. Sometimes referred to in the UK as the “Meyers scale”, it was developed by Dr. Ken Heaton at the University of Bristol and was first published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology in 1997. The authors of that paper concluded that the form of the stool is a useful surrogate measure of colon transit time. That conclusion has since been challenged as having limited validity, and only in types 1 and 2 when the subject is not constipated. However, it remains in use as a research tool to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments for various diseases of the bowel, as well as a clinical communication aid.
The seven types of stool are:
- Type 1: Separate hard lumps, like nuts (hard to pass)
- Type 2: Sausage-shaped, but lumpy
- Type 3: Like a sausage but with cracks on its surface
- Type 4: Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft
- Type 5: Soft blobs with clear cut edges (passed easily)
- Type 6: Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, a mushy stool
- Type 7: Watery, no solid pieces, entirely liquid
Types 1–2 indicate constipation, with 3 and 4 being the ideal stools (especially the latter), as they are easy to defecate while not containing any excess liquid, and 5, 6 and 7 tending towards diarrhoea.
Looking at your stools tells you a lot about your health. It is important to check regularly and make yourself aware of the Bristol Stool Chart.
WHAT DOES THE COLOUR OF YOUR STOOL MEAN?
|Stool color||What it may mean||Possible dietary causes|
|Green||Food may be moving through the large intestine too quickly, such as due to diarrhea. As a result, bile doesn’t have time to break down completely.||Green leafy vegetables, green food coloring, such as in flavored drink mixes or ice pops, iron supplements.|
|Light-colored, white or clay-colored||A lack of bile in stool. This may indicate a bile duct obstruction.||Certain medications, such as large doses of bismuth subsalicylate (Kaopectate, Pepto-Bismol) and other anti-diarrheal drugs.|
|Yellow, greasy, foul-smelling||Excess fat in the stool, such as due to a malabsorption disorder, for example, celiac disease.||Sometimes the protein gluten, such as in breads and cereals. But see a doctor for evaluation.|
|Black||Bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract, such as the stomach.||Iron supplements, bismuth subsalicylate (Kaopectate, Pepto-Bismol), black licorice.|
|Bright red||Bleeding in the lower intestinal tract, such as the large intestine or rectum, often from hemorrhoids.||Red food coloring, beets, cranberries, tomato juice or soup, red gelatin or drink mixes.|
Trying a course of colonic hydrotherapy treatments to detoxify the body and promote bowel movements, coupled with improving your diet so it’s rich in vegetables (especially greens), fruit, beans, berries and seeds is a great way to improve bowel function and your health.