The truth about 'ghost poos' and how they're a sign you're at risk of impaction (2024)

HAVE you ever taken a runaway poop?

Elusive excretions, or whatever you call them, don't leave a trace on the loo paper or down the toilet bowl.

2

Even when you could have sworn you passed a stool, there is no sign of it anywhere - almost like a ghost.

Over the last few months, the strange phenomenon has gone viralonsocial mediaplatforms as TikTok, with users sharing their bizarre bowel movement experiences.

While “ghost poop” isn’t a term you’ll find on the NHS website - or any medical site for that matter - patients often ask doctors about them, Dr Felice Schnoll-Sussman, a gastroenterologist at Weill Cornell Medicine, told Today.com.

So, what really is a haunted dump? And are they really as scary as they sound?

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Here, we delve into the different types of ghost poo (yes, there is more than one) and what each one tells us about your health.

1. The sensation of needing to poop, which ends up being gas

Occasionally, the number two we feel is on its way isn’t really a poop at all.

Instead, it’s just gas - how deflating.

This feeling may make you want to sit on the toilet and push hard, explained Dr Rabia De Latour from NYU Langone Health.

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But you will probably find that nothing comes out.

"The sphincters in our rectum are incredibly intelligent and sensitive parts of our body," Dr Rabia said, while also speaking to Today.com.

The 3 things to do if you need to relieve constipation and poo instantly

When our rectum recognises we need to poo, it sends a message to our brain which tells our body and the muscles in the anus to relax.

But during a phantom poop, the brain tells the body that it's time for a bowel movement when it actually needs to release gas.

In some extreme cases, this can be because of an underlying neurological condition, like multiple sclerosis (MS), which can lead to the loss of normal bowel function.

When this happens, the brain gets confused and cannot tell whether the bowel is entirely of waste or just wind.

This can lead to accidental leakage or thinking a fart is a number two.

Constipation

But your misplaced urge to poop is more likely a sign that you're suffering from run-of-the-mill constipation.

The NHS would consider you backed up if you haven't had a poo at least three times during the last week.

The website says you are also constipated if you're pooing less often than usual, you're straining to poo, or you feel like you haven't emptied your bowels.

For most people, constipation rarely causes complications, but people withlong-term constipation can develop several rather unpleasant conditions.

Haemorrhoids, or piles, can develop if you spend too much time straining on the loo.

Being unable to poop for a long period can also lead to something called faecal impaction.

Also called chronic constipation, this is when large amounts of dry hard poo get lodged in the rectum after several weeks or more of not being able to go to the loo.

This problem is very rare but very severe and can result in death if not treated.

A trained nurse or doctor might need to physically remove the hard poo from your back passage to help you feel better.

Bowel cancer

Scientists have linked the chronic condition and long-term constipation generally to bowel cancer.

A Danish studyfound the risk of the disease almost twice as high in patients suffering fromconstipationthan in those without.

However, the evidence is mixed and only suggests an association, not causation.

Other signs of bowel cancer include:

  1. Changes in your poo
  2. Needing to poo more or less often than usual for you
  3. Blood in your poo, which may look red or black
  4. Bleeding from your bottom
  5. Often feeling like you need to poo, even if you've just been to the toilet
  6. Tummy pain
  7. Bloating
  8. Losing weight without trying
  9. Feeling very tired for no reason

It is the UK’s second deadliestcancer, claiming 16,000 lives each year.

However, nine in 10 patients survive it if diagnosed at the earliest stage, according to Bowel Cancer UK.

The Sun’sNo Time 2 Losecampaign, spearheaded by DameDeborah James, has called for earlier testing and treatments to improve survival rates in Britain.

2. A poop that sinks to the bottom of the loo disappears and leaves no residue on the paper

Poops that leave zero evidence that they were ever around are generally a sign of good health.

"If (someone) has a bowel movement and it's so clean and well-formed that it doesn't leave any residue and just sinks, that is actually a very healthy bowel movement," Dr Rabia said.

It usually suggests a diet is high in fibre, which increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it, the Mayo Clinic says.

Fibre is not only important for staying regular on the loo, it is also associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer, according to the NHS.

Should I be worried?

It's always worth talking to your doctor if you have questions or concerns, or notice sudden changes in your bowel habits.

Monitoring your poops is a good way to keep tabs on your health.

Though everyone's number twos look different, they usually fall into one of seven categories outlined by the Bristol Stool Chart.

The helpful guide compares stools to different objects - from artwork to (rather disgustingly) foods:

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  • Marbles: separate, hard lumps like nuts which are hard to pass
  • Caterpillar: sausage-shaped but lumpy
  • Hotdogs: like a sausage but with cracks on the surface
  • Snakes: smooth and soft like a sausage or snake
  • Amobeas: soft blobs with clear-cut edges
  • Soft serve: fluffy or mushy pieces with ragged edges
  • Jackson Pollock: watery or entirely liquid

Anything from marbles to caterpillars indicates constipation; hotdogs or snakes are ideal; and amoebas to Jackson Pollock suggests diarrhoea and urgency.

Tips to relieve constipation

IF YOU find yourselfstruggling to poo quite often, some simple diet and lifestyle changes might help ease the struggle.

Tweak your diet

Firstly, drinking plenty of water and fluids will make your poop softer and easier to pass.Alcohol, on the other hand, might only be adding to your woes.

Aside from trying to stick to a healthy and balanced diet, eating certain foods might be a helping hand.

Fruit that contains sorbitol, such as apples, apricots, grapes, raisins, raspberries and strawberries, could make it easier for you to poop.

It's also worth graduallyincreasing the amount of fibre you eat.

Foods that contain this constipation-easing nutrient include pulses like beans, lentils or chickpeas, wholemeal bread and pasta, potatoes with the skin on, Weetabix or porridge oats.

Fresh fruit and veg, rye crackers and unsalted nuts or seeds will also give you a fibre kick.

There are also a few changes you can make to your toilet routine that might help ease your constipation.

Improve your toilet routine

It's helpful to give yourself enough time to complete your task.

And one of the worst things you can do is delay going to the loo when you feel the urge to poo.

To make it easier to poo, try resting your feet on a low stool while going to the toilet. If possible, raise your knees above your hips.

Get moving

Constipation can be caused by low levels of activity, so a daily walk or run can help you poo more regularly.

If none of these tweaks work, speak to a pharmacist about your struggles; they can offer you some laxatives to help get everything moving.

The truth about 'ghost poos' and how they're a sign you're at risk of impaction (2024)
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