9 Bathroom Habits That Can Be A Sign Of A Health Concern
Even though you probably just want to get in and get out and not give too much attention to your bathroom habits, it's still important to be on the lookout for changes to your usual routine. In some cases, new habits can be a sign of a health concern. So if you're peeing more frequently, experiencing diarrhea, or noticing new colors or smells, let a doctor know.
"You should definitely pay attention to your bathroom habits," Dr. Octavia Cannon, a board-certified osteopathic obstetrician and gynecologist, tells Bustle. "[Many of these changes] can be serious if they don't resolve and are left unaddressed."
Of course, that's not to say you need to instantly assume the worst just because you're peeing at a new time, or your poop looks different. But certain changes can be the first indication from your body that something isn't quite right, and paying attention is key.
If anything seems odd, uncomfortable, painful, or worrisome, Dr. Cannon says, you should make an appointment with your doctor, as it's always better to be safe than sorry. Read on below for a few bathroom habits that may alert you to a health problem, according to experts, as well as what it all might mean.
1. Your Pee Is Pink Or Red
If you pop into the bathroom to pee, and happen to notice your urine is a different color than usual, you won't want to flush and forget about it.
"Changes in the color of your urine could be caused by a health problem you don’t want to ignore like a liver condition, urinary infection, or kidney stones," Dr. Jessica Harness with Urology Associates, tells Bustle. "The four colors to look out for the most are brown, red, pink, or orange urine."
If your pee is pink or red, it could mean you have blood in your urine, which may be a sign of a kidney disease, a urinary tract infection, or other hidden issue, Dr. Harness says. And you'll want to let a doctor know.
2. Your Urine Is Dark Brown
If urine is darker yellow, orange, or even brown, it could be a sign you're dehydrated, which can happen if you haven't been drinking enough water or if you've been sick. But it can also be a sign of a liver condition, Dr. Harness says, as well as a few other health concerns.
You can try drinking more water to see if that clears things up. And if not, don't hesitate to seek help. As Dr. Harness says, "There are many medications and foods that could also cause these changes in color. But if you are experiencing an unhealthy looking color, make an appointment with your primary care doctor."
3. You Keep Having Diarrhea
It's common to experience diarrhea when you have a stomach virus, or if you happen to eat something that doesn't agree with you. But if the issue is ongoing or seems to be impacting your life, go ahead and point it out.
As Dr. Cannon says, persistent diarrhea can be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), especially if you're also experiencing pain, bloating, gas, and even constipation. It can be a tough condition to deal with, but there are treatments available that can help you feel better.
4. There's Blood In Your Stool
The food you eat can have an impact on the color of your poop, so if you've been consuming an abundance of carrots or beets and your poop looks slightly colorful as a result, there's no need to panic.
But you will want to reach out to your doctor if you notice a red or black shade, as this can mean there's blood in your stool. "Blood in your stool or when you wipe could be sign of hemorrhoids, a virus, internal bleeding, or colon polyps," Dr. Cannon says. "If the stool caliber (size) changes to pencil-size from a larger size, this could be due to a mass in the colon or rectum."
5. It's Difficult To Pee
No two pees will ever be the same, thanks to the amount of water you do (or don't) drink. And yet, you will want to let a doctor know about any changes that are uncomfortable or ongoing.
"Inability to urinate, painful urination, urinary urgency/frequency, incomplete emptying of your bladder, bladder pressure, blood in your urine, spraying of urine (not a straight stream), or foul-smelling urine could be a sign of infection, kidney stones, diverticulum in the urethra, uterine fibroids (pressing on the bladder), or even bladder cancer," Dr. Cannon says.
Again, you won't want to assume the worst. But do pay attention to these signs from your body, and have any worrisome changes checked out.
6. You Pee All The Time
Urinary urgency, or feeling like you need to pee right now all the time, "may be a sign of diabetes, over-hydration, anxiety, urinary tract infection, pregnancy, pelvic or bladder infection, overactive bladder, or related to medication intake," Katie Chapmon, MS, RD, tells Bustle. The best way to figure out what's up is by taking a quick trip on over to your doctor.
7. You Feel Constipated
Constipation can have many causes, including IBS. But it can also be a sign you are eating too much fiber, Chapmon says, and that you need more physical activity in order to get things moving, or that you're having a side effect from medication. Usually it goes away on its own, but if not, let a doctor know.
8. You Always Need To Spray Air Freshener
While poop never smells great, stool that smells way worse than usual can be a sign of a health issue.
"If your stool always smells really bad, there is likely some kind of imbalance in your gut flora," Lisa Richards a certified nutritionist, tells Bustle. "This usually means an overgrowth of either bacteria or Candida yeast in your gut. It typically occurs after a course of antibiotics or if you consistently eat [food] that is high in added sugars."
You can, however, rebalance your gut flora by taking probiotics, Richards says, as well as eating more vegetables and high-fiber foods. If the extra smelliness doesn't go away, do get it checked out.
9. Your Poop Is Pale
While healthy poop comes in various shades of brown, you'll want to see a doctor if it's paler than usual. "Pale, almost white-colored stools could be a sign of fat malabsorption," health expert and registered dietician Colleen Christensen, tells Bustle, as well as other issues, like gallstones and hepatitis.
It can be unnerving to notice issues like these, but keep in mind they aren't always a sign of something serious. If you spot one of these symptoms, or notice any other changes, let a doctor know so they can figure out what's wrong.