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Talking about bowel problems

Doctors or nurses may ask you to describe your bowel habits and what your poo (stool) looks like. This helps with your diagnosis.

To help health professionals and patients there is a scale of different types of stool called the Bristol stool chart. It has 7 different levels shown in the image below:

Bristol Stool Chart
The Bristol stool chart

You might find it embarrassing to talk about your bowels and bowel problems. If you do feel embarrassed, you can use the Bristol scale to tell your doctor or nurse what it is like. For example you could say "It is usually type 4 but for the last few days has been type 6".

Last reviewed: 
17 Jul 2019
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    VT De Vita, S Hellman and SA Rosenberg
    Wolters Kluwer, 2019

  • Cancer and its management (7th edition)
    J Tobias and D Hochhauser
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2015

  • The Royal Marsden Hospital Manual of Clinical Nursing Procedures (9th Edition)
    Editors: Lisa Dougherty and Sara Lister
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2015

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