Look before you flush.

Lifestyle
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Take a lesson from new moms and 1st graders—it’s ok to talk about poop (or bowel movements if you want to be more formal). You’ll learn some surprising things. Here are a few:

Sink or float

Poop is supposed to sink. If it’s floating, it’s a sign it contains a lot of fat. That might be normal after the occasional cheesecake binge, but if it’s all the time, it could mean that your body isn’t absorbing food as it should.

Floating stool also appears more yellow and greasy than normal stool—and even smells more foul.

Bleeding can appear black or red

How many times has a medical professional asked you if you’ve noticed any blood in your stool? It’s one of those go-to questions that helps doctors know where to look next for the cause of certain symptoms. But did you know that blood can appear as black or dark brown spots in stool?

If bleeding occurs in the lower digestive tract, then the blood will appear a typical red color – either loose in the tank or mixed throughout the stool. But if there is bleeding in the upper digestive tract, that blood gets treated with the same digestive processes as the food you eat, changing its appearance.

Either type of bleeding is a concern and you should let your doctor know.

There’s no such thing as “normal” only “normal for you”

You make go like clockwork, once a day between 6 and 7 p.m. Or, you may go with no rhyme or reason—from several times a days to once every 2 or 3 days. There is no “normal” when it comes to how often you go.

But you should know yourself well enough to know what is normal for you – and bring anything abnormal to your doctor’s attention.

Talk to your doctor about stool changes

You’re not likely to find anyone more interested in your stool changes than your doctor. Any bleeding should be reported, as well as any other significant changes in color, texture, smell or frequency of bowel movements.

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