How Do I Make My Poop More Solid?
Are you suffering from soft stools (known medically as loose stools)? This uncomfortable problem can be a source of constant frustration. It may force you to make bowel movements more often throughout the day, and it may point to more serious problems.In many cases, this problem can be resolved through the proper treatments and lifestyle choices. This guide will give you some insight into why this problem may be happening and what treatments and lifestyle changes may help you recover.
Table of contents
What causes loose stool & should I see a doctor?Loose stool refers to bowel movements that have a watery texture. They may be accompanied by other symptoms such as mild burning sensations. When watery stools become regular, they are known as the condition diarrhea.
Loose stools can be caused by a number of temporary and long-term factors. You may be experiencing these problems because of:
- Your diet or changes in your diet
- Infections, parasites, and viruses
- Medical conditions
Your diet or changes in your diet
Your diet may play a significant role in the development of loose stools. The following foods and beverages may increase the likelihood of loose stools:
- Rich foods (high in fat, sugar, or salt)
- Spicy foods
- Supplements containing magnesium
Your diet may be responsible for loose stools even if you have not eaten any of the foods that are known to cause it. Introducing foods to your diet that you do not normally eat can result in short-term diarrhea until your body adjusts.
If this problem develops in response to new foods, it may point to mild intolerances or allergies. Try to keep a list of new foods you have eaten if this problem develops. You can provide this list to doctors, who may recommend a series of allergy tests.
Infections, parasites, and viruses
Loose stools may be caused by food-borne or other sorts of infections, parasites, and viruses. When these problems are the cause of your condition, they are typically accompanied by other symptoms (depending on the severity).
Symptoms of infection
The following symptoms, in addition to diarrhea, may point to an infection.
- Nasal congestion
- Shortness of breath
- Chills and sweats
- Sore throat
Symptoms of parasites
The following symptoms, in addition to diarrhea, may point to parasite infection:
- Abdominal pain
Symptoms of viruses
The following symptoms, in addition to diarrhea, may point to viruses:
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Fatigue (tiredness)
If you have any of these extra symptoms, and they become serious, you should speak to a health professional about your next steps. You may be prescribed antibiotics, anti-virals, or other medications to relieve your symptoms more quickly.
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Underlying conditions may cause loose stools and long-term diarrhea. Your problems may point to a condition that needs treatment.
- Lactose intolerance: If you have an intolerance of the dairy chemical lactose, you may experience loose stools whenever you ingest dairy products. The symptoms may be mild, and the condition can go undiagnosed for years.
- Diabetes: People with diabetes may experience episodes of loose stools or regular diarrhea. The problem may present itself mainly at night and be combined with incontinence.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): This disorder affects the large intestines and can interfere with proper digestion. In addition to loose stools, it may cause constipation, cramping, gas, and sleeping problems.
- Inflammatory bowel disease: This name refers to a set of disorders that are marked by the chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. It is often marked by swelling, redness, pain, and other symptoms. If left untreated, it may lead to a weakened immune system.
- Medications: You may experience loose stools as a side effect of some medications. This is rarely a serious side effect. It may pass when your body adjusts to the medicine. Your doctor may also recommend some additional prescriptions to help you adjust.
Should I see a doctor?
Most medical conditions will require proper evaluation and treatment before symptoms such as loose stool can be resolved. You should schedule a checkup with a doctor as soon as possible if your symptoms become regular. Untreated conditions may become more serious.
Can I correct loose stools with over-the-counter medication?
You may be able to resolve your loose stools with over-the-counter medication that can act on the moisture in the digestive process and harden your stools.
These medications are traditionally known as anti-diarrheal. The most widely available antidiarrheals are:
Loperamide is the active ingredient in some of the most widely-used antidiarrheals. It is often recommended by doctors for the treatment of traveler’s diarrhea, and other short-term episodes. It is available under the brand name Imodium. However, it is also available as a generic medication in softgel, capsule, and caplet form.
This antidiarrheal works by slowing down the movement of food through the digestive system. This allows the intestines to extract more water along the way. As a result, the stools that are produced are drier and firmer.
Some people should not take Loperamide. You should speak to your doctor before attempting to use this medication if you have any of the following conditions or side effects:
- Ulcerative colitis
- Bloody or tarry stools
- High fever
You may be instructed not to take Loperamide if you are currently taking antibiotics or if you have a high fever in addition to your diarrhea symptoms. Excessive amounts of Loperamide can be dangerous, so speak to a doctor if your symptoms last for more than a few days.
Bismuth subsalicylate is another active ingredient that is commonly found in anti-diarrheal. It is sold under the brand name Pepto-bismal but may also be available in generic formulations.
This ingredient works by reducing inflammation in the intestines. This can cause diarrhea symptoms to resolve more quickly.
Some people should not take bismuth subsalicylate. You should speak to a doctor before taking this medication if you are:
- Under 16 years of age
- Pregnant or breastfeeding
- Experiencing stomach bleeding
Over the counter probiotics
Anti-diarrheals are not the only over-the-counter treatments that can firm up loose stools. Some widely available probiotics may also offer you the relief that you need. The following active ingredients in probiotics may aid your digestive system:
- Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG: This probiotic is one of the most widely available. It is often taken for gut health and exists naturally in the intestines of most people. When the populations of this probiotic die out in the gut, it may cause many problems that include loose stools and diarrhea. Taking supplements can restore normal populations. It may be found over-the-counter or online in capsule form.
- Saccharomyces Boulardii: This probiotic is a type of yeast that is used for some medical purposes. Doctors may recommend the use of this yeast to treat a range of gut-related problems. It is sometimes prescribed to treat diarrhea caused by the rotavirus. It may also be used to treat people who can’t take antidiarrheals because they are too young or taking antibiotics. It can be found in capsule form over the counter or online.
Lactobacillus Casei: This naturally occurring gut bacteria is often a part of probiotic formulations that are designed to treat or prevent diarrhea. It has been used to treat infectious diarrhea, traveler’s diarrhea, and diarrhea that results from antibiotic use.
Medications or probiotics may be more effective at helping you relieve your symptoms. Medications can resolve symptoms more quickly if they are caused by a temporary condition. Probiotics may be able to reduce the long-term risk of episodes of loose stools occurring.
Can I make my poop more solid with lifestyle changes?
Yes, if your symptoms are not related to a medical condition, you can make your stools more solid by making changes to your lifestyle and diet. Taking the following measures may all help to resolve your symptoms:
Add more fiber to your diet
Fiber is a nutrient that can help add more bulk to your stool. Additional fiber can help you resolve both diarrhea symptoms and constipation. Consuming all of the following foods can help you add more fiber to your diet:
- Fruits and berries, including strawberries and apples
- Nuts and seeds including peanuts, sunflower seeds, and cashews
- High-fiber vegetables including collard greens, artichokes, turnips, and squashes
- Sources of whole grains including whole grain bread, pasta, and cereal grains
- Beans including red beans, black beans, lima beans, and red beans
Use a specialized diet
There are specialized diets available that are designed to limit the risk of diarrhea. One such diet is the BRAT diet. The acronym stands for: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast. These non-irritant foods may allow the gut to operate with much less strain than is normally needed to process foods.
This diet is sometimes recommended to allow the gut to recover from prolonged damage, or from traumatic events. It may also be recommended to patients with chronic diarrhea who cannot take typical medications for health reasons.
Drink more water
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, drinking more water can help you resolve loose stool problems. Diarrhea can lead to dehydration. Dehydration can prolong many medical conditions that have diarrhea as a side effect. By taking in more water, you can reduce the number of days that you’re experiencing discomfort.
Remove irritants from your diet
Earlier in this guide, you learned about some foods that can aggravate your digestive system. These foods include coffee, alcohol, and spicy foods. You should consider removing these foods from your diet until you can narrow down the causes of your loose stools.
The following foods can also play a role. You should experiment with removing them from your diet to determine if they are responsible for your problems:
- Concentrated fruits, including dried fruits and juices
- Sugar-free additives such as sorbitol or xylitol
- Fatty meats such as bacon and marbled steaks
- Legumes such as beans, peas, lentils (some people may have a sensitivity)
Improve your food safety practices
If you regularly experience bouts of diarrhea, it may be a result of poor food safety practices. All of the following practices can lead to bacterial and viral infections that have diarrhea as a symptom:
- Failing to properly refrigerate or freeze food that requires it
- Leaving food out too long before cooking it or preserving it
- Failing to properly wash fruits and vegetables before ingesting them
- Failing to heat beef, chicken, and other meats to safe temperatures
- Using utensils or serving dishes that have not been properly cleaned since the last use
Clean & disinfect your home
Certain types of bacteria can live for a long time on surfaces after they form. Some bacterias can survive for weeks or even months off of nutrients on surfaces or in the air. These bacteria colonies may be active in your home.
Bacteria are most likely to form on surfaces that are regularly exposed to moisture. If you think you may be experiencing repeated exposure to bacteria, you should clean and disinfect your home.
Wipe down all surfaces in your bathroom or kitchen with disinfectant wipes. Pay extra attention to surfaces you or food comes in contact with (such as countertops, sinks, and stovetops). Clean all fixtures such as cabinet handles, door handles, and toilet handles.
Get relief from loose stools
Relief from loose stools is possible in most cases. Make sure you see a doctor first to eliminate the possibility of a medical condition. After that, you may be able to resolve your symptoms with active strategies.
Consider over-the-counter medicines and probiotics to resolve your symptoms quickly. To prevent the symptoms from returning, consider serious lifestyle changes to your diet and food safety practices.