The appearance of thin or narrow stools without the presence of other red-flag symptoms are usually not a cause for alarm. As much as we’d love to see a well formed poop in the toilet, signaling all is good with our digestive system. Nothing’s ever perfect and our poop comes in a variety of shapes of sizes and forms, which do not necessarily mean something is wrong. The key is consistency, if you are going to the bathroom regularly without discomfort, urgency that may result in an accident and pass without straining then there shouldn’t be an issue.
Sudden changes that are not accompanied by a corresponding alteration in dietary habits, is something to be aware of. There are a variety of reasons that may be behind pencil thin stools, including conditions causing diarrhea or constipation or an obstruction of the colon.
Possible Causes of Thin Stools
Irritable bowel syndrome often causes changes in the shape and consistency due to altered colonic motility. In other words the transit time for food to leave our bowel. When IBS results in diarrhea, stool can be watery and pencil-thin, as the stool hasn’t had enough time to form. Where else if constipation is the culprit, stool may be thin and stringy due to inadequate fiber.
Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease can cause diarrhea or narrowing of the rectum which are both causes of thin stools
The growth of cancerous or non-cancerous tumors or polyps may cause a narrowing of the rectum, that is thought to result in thin or narrowed stool. Though research suggests this is highly unlikely unless accompanied by red flag symptoms discussed below.
When to Be Concerned
Though it’s not common for narrow stools to indicate cancer if it it has been ongoing for more than two weeks, it would be best to check with a doctor. If changes in stool appearance are accompanied by blood in the stool, anemia and stomach pain or abdominal cramps then it’s important to speak to your doctor immediately as these signs could be indicative of cancer.
What you should look for?
- Any other changes in bowel habits
- Have you changed your dietary habits recently?
- Additional symptoms accompanying the narrowing of stools
- How long you have been experiencing pencil thin stools
- Have you started taking any new medications lately?
- Do you have a family history of colorectal or other cancers