Mucus in the stool, what to do?

Mucus in the stool is a symptom that worries people. Is this also necessary? People often think that it is a harbinger of something serious or they think too lightly about what their stool can tell them about their health. Read more in this article about what the causes of mucus in stools can be, such as an inflammation of the intestine or a symptom of IBS. Should you go to the doctor or is it not that serious?

Mucus in the stool

  • Where does the mucus come from?
  • Inflammation of the intestine
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Something temporary that you don’t have to worry about
  • When in doubt, always go to the doctor!


Where does the mucus come from?

It is often thought when someone has a lot of mucus in the stool that this is something that does not belong there. That is not correct. A little mucus in the stool is normal. The mucus comes from the mucous membrane of the intestines. The stool is passed past this and this is what normally gives the stool its shine. If the mucus is very clearly visible in the toilet, this is not strange in itself, it is just a bit more than normal. In this case there are often three options.

  1. An inflammation of the intestine
  2. A symptom of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  3. Something temporary that you don’t have to worry about


Inflammation of the intestine

A chronic inflammation of the lining of the large intestine is called ulcerative colitis . Together with Crohn’s disease, it is the most common intestinal disorder. It is a condition that comes on in fits and starts. People with ulcerative colitis often also have blood in their stools, which is mixed with the mucus. During an attack there is also diarrhea, which makes it less easy to see how the stool is composed.
More common is gastroenteritis , a non-chronic inflammation of the intestines. The inflammation comes on suddenly and anyone who suffers from it has to go to the toilet frequently. It is usually also accompanied by abdominal cramps, a general feeling of illness and nausea, with or without vomiting. One of the symptoms of gastroenteritis is mucus in the stool and is an indicator of inflammation.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Some mucus in the stool is not immediately a reason to suspect an irritable bowel. If you really have more of the symptoms associated with this condition, it is advisable to consult your doctor. Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) include the following:

  • alternating or continuous abdominal pain
  • a ‘bloated feeling’
  • little regularity in the stool
  • foreign substance from the stool
  • abnormal need to push or a senseless urge
  • feeling that not all the stool has been removed yet
  • excessive gas and flatulence
  • pressure pain in the colon
  • pain that decreases after defecation

If you have several of the above symptoms in addition to mucus in your stool, there is a chance that this is the cause. Your GP or possibly a specialist can provide clarity on this.

Something temporary that you don’t have to worry about

There are people who have regularly had excessive mucus in their stools since childhood and have never had any problems with this. Sometimes this just happens and in the absence of other complaints it is often completely harmless. What also sometimes happens is that people once have a lot of mucus in their stool and shortly afterwards they get a lot of cramps and then have an attack of diarrhea. This may be because your intestines temporarily react somewhat irritated to something you have eaten and therefore produce excessive mucus. The diarrhea is over again. You may be hypersensitive to a certain product such as gluten or lactose or there was a certain bacteria in something you ate that your intestines had to deal with and reacted strongly to.

When in doubt, always go to the doctor!

If you have any doubts about the nature of your complaints, always visit your doctor. Sometimes people give themselves a kind of ultimatum. ‘If the complaint does not go away in five days, I will go to the doctor.’ The complaints then stop after four days. But don’t keep this up for too long! If you have persistent complaints for days on end, it is advisable to consult a doctor.