Time to talk about Poo

4th December 2018

By Sue Wilde: https://bit.ly/2QA7tIl

A recent article in the Guardian that discussed a device called a “Squatty Potty”. It is basically a box that you put your feet on to raise the knees above the pelvis. This “opens up” the anorectal angle by allowing a fuller relaxation of the puborectalis muscle. Allowing an easier (and possibly more complete) passage of faeces.

Look online and you can find many blogs on this topic, with impassioned opinions. Yet socially, perhaps more so in the UK, people don’t usually volunteer information about bowel habits! It is bizarre really, all of us have to poo – regularly.

As a Gastroenterologist, once I broach the subject in a consultation setting, patients often then talk openly about their bowel habits and the problems they may have.

Is this really important? Absolutely. A typical Western diet may be lower in fibre than is optimal for bowel function. Many don’t drink as much fluid, or exercise as much as they should. This can lead to problems such as constipation, which can be very debilitating, and in the elderly – be a cause of delirium.

By Vincent Ho: https://bit.ly/2FZ9XMh

Disordered bowel habit can be caused by inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis which can cause much misery for sufferers.

Also, in terms of bowel cancer “red flag” symptoms (warning symptoms that may be caused by bowel cancer) such as rectal bleeding, change in bowel habit, and tenesmus (the feeling of not being “empty” despite bowels being opened), it is really important that people seek medical advice and volunteer this information freely – their life may depend on it.

Hence I am always pleased when there is an article discussing bowel habits. It is ok to talk about poo! And it is really important that people don’t suffer, or worse – die – of embarrassment, when it comes to talking about their bowel habits.

Written by Ajay M Verma – Consultant Gastroenterologist at Kettering General Hospital & Deputy Chair of the Royal College of Physicians

The most primitive things sometimes require extraordinary sophistication to produce. The passage of a humble turd demands the orchestration of the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the autonomic nervous system, muscles skeletal and smooth, three anal reflexes, two sphincters and a weight of cultural knowledge about where and when it’s appropriate to go. It is a “masterful performance”

German scientist Giulia Enders in her international bestseller, Gut.
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