Hard stools and feces: causes and symptoms

The ideal consistency of the stool is large, soft and loose and should normally result in light bowel movements.
But in case of problems, the chair can be similar to small hard balls.
The time of intestinal transit can be a risk factor because with slow passage through the intestine, the stool loses fluid and becomes less voluminous and soft.
Generally, this type of chair is heavy and sinks to the bottom of the toilet bowl while loose stool floats.

The consequences are:

  1. less frequent bowel movements,
  2. Difficulties in bowel evacuation (Brandt et al. – 2005).


Causes of hard stools and fecal stones (Fekalom)

Foods low in fiber can lead to hard stools.
Beware, protein diets (such as Atkins or Dukan) based on more protein and fewer carbohydrates have a low fiber content.
The result is hard stools in the form of balls.
In any case, people who eat little suffer more from constipation.

People who eat a lot of white carbs, such as white bread or white rice, should switch to whole grains.

Eggs, together with dairy products (for example, cheese) and meat, can provoke hard stools.
Children often eat processed foods (for example, confectionery) that cause difficulty with bowel movements.

Medications that cause
hard stools 
Sometimes stool discomfort is the side effect of a medication.
Drugs that provoke hard stools:

  • diuretics (Gandel et al. – 2013) because they lead to large water loss; in this case, you should drink a lot.
  • Antidepressants (Talley et al. – 2003), calcium antagonists, codeine and morphine are other drugs that induce hard stools.

This list is not exhaustive, you have to check the package leaflet for each medication to find out if it can cause constipation.

Pregnancy and hard stools
Due to hormonal changes and the need for more water in the body, pregnancy can cause hard stools.
A pregnant woman should eat some bran for breakfast, as well as apricots and plums.
Constipation in pregnancy is common in the last three months and usually passes again after the birth of the child.

Hard stools and diseases of the digestive system
With constant constipation, one can suffer from a disease of the digestive system.
Irritable bowel syndrome can cause a change of hard and loose stools.
In addition, the doctor should exclude the possibility of intestinal obstruction.
Only rarely is constipation caused by a colon tumor. Nevertheless, the doctor should order examinations that exclude this disease (for example, a colonoscopy).

Neurological diseases
Some neurological and metabolic diseases can slow the passage of stool in the digestive system, leading to constipation.
Neurological disorders, such as spinal cord trauma and parkinsonism, can affect the brain and spine.

Diabetes can alter stool consistency when the functioning of the autonomic nervous system is affected (Haines – 1995).

Hypothyroidism is a condition that induces the body to produce too few thyroid hormones. This can slow down many bodily functions, including digestion; the result is a hardening of the stool.

Anxiety and depression
In some cases, stress and depression due to hormone changes can also cause this problem.

laxatives (laxatives)
Excessive use of laxatives can ironically lead to hard stools.
This happens when the constant use of laxatives weakens the intestinal muscles that carry feces.
The excretion products of digestion therefore remain longer in the colon and lose more fluid.
Regular suppression of the urge to defecate can lead to the loss of impulse for stool excretion.

Hard stools in infants
Constipation in infants can occur because the intestine has not yet fully developed.
Infants fed artificial formula are more likely to suffer from constipation (Biggs et al. – 2006).
The doctor may recommend probiotics or lactic acid bacteria that help keep the intestines healthy.
During lactation, the mother should eat a healthy diet and avoid coffee and sugary drinks.

Other causes of constipation and hard stools:

  • Lack
  • Dehydration
  • non-observance of the urge to defecate,
  • advanced age
  • Travel or vacation.

Symptoms of hard stools or fecal stones

The most common symptoms are:

  • abdominal flatulence,
  • blood in the stool,
  • small pieces of excrement and droppings,
  • With hard stools, there may be severe pain during bowel movements,
  • with an intestinal blockage (fecal balls), mucus may leak from the anus,
  • Difficulty emptying stools.

Can a person who does not suffer from constipation have hard stools?

Yes, it is possible to have bowel movements every day and solid feces.
Constipation is considered a condition in which a person has fewer than three bowel movements per week.
It is possible that hard stools also occur in people who go to the toilet daily.

What are the complications of constipation?

Constipation can lead to fecaloma, which manifests itself mainly in children and the elderly.
Constipation can cause complications such as:

  • hemorrhoids, which appear as a result of pressing during bowel movements;
  • rhagades (skin injuries in the anus area), which occur when hard stools stretch the muscles of the sphincter too much. This can cause rectal bleeding.
  • Sometimes too strong pressing leads to rectal prolapse, in which a small part of the intestinal mucosa emerges from the opening.

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