oh, poo
February 11, 2009 5:42 PM   Subscribe

What could cause this particular intestinal condition? Yucky details inside.

Let's put this straight as possible: I shit pebbles. Little piles of tiny turds. Maybe gravel, at largest. This is every day, quite regularly. I'm vegetarian, and I know I don't eat enough fiber, but even if I take Metamucil, nothing really changes. This has been going on for years, and is not painful or uncomfortable in any way. Just strange.

I know you are not my doctor. I know I should see a doctor, and maybe I will, when I find a primary care doctor I feel comfortable bringing this up with. But if anyone knows anything...well. Googling is not really helpful for this kind of question. Anonymous email set up at anonynony1@yahoo.com, if that's worth anything.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Metamucil is for amateurs - try psyllium husks...
posted by TorontoSandy at 5:51 PM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, you are (perhaps a little) constipated. Note here.
posted by exlotuseater at 5:58 PM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Have you ever been tested for a lactose intolerance? That can cause constipation. A lot of vegetarians compensate for the lack of meat in their diet by eating a lot of cheese and dairy. How much of this are you consuming on average? You should do a little experiment. Let's say, for two weeks, don't eat any dairy and see if your stools change for the better. If they do, then you know the answer.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:03 PM on February 11, 2009


Have you tried drinking more water? It sounds dumb, but if you're a camel like me...might be worth a try.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:07 PM on February 11, 2009


What happens if you eat a few high-fat meals in a day? You might not be getting enough fat in your diet.
posted by tehloki at 6:10 PM on February 11, 2009


Metamucil is psyllium, TorontoSandy.

I've had this problem, because of irritable bowel, etc. And I hate suggesting that someone drink more water, because of how people freaking suggest that for every health issue. But water will actually probably help this situation. It helps me. And Metamucil does, too, but you have to ingest a good amount of it, WITH fluid.

And I'm here to back up the notion that you may eat too much dairy, as a vegetarian. God knows I do, and I'm only mostly vegetarian.
posted by Coatlicue at 6:17 PM on February 11, 2009


Just Google this ( small pebble like feces) and you will have more information than you might like--remember, the notion that one is unique is only a notion. Good Luck on your journey to pliability ( the desired state )
posted by rmhsinc at 6:19 PM on February 11, 2009


There is actually a word for this, in German: korinthenkacker, literally one who shits raisins. It's more of a (pejorative) description of a personality defect than of an intestinal problem, but, there you have it.


As for fixing it, I would suggest trying a GI specialist. Those fine doctors chose to spend their careers poking around peoples' nether regions, and have seen everything and heard all the jokes. Most of them are acutely aware of their patients' discomfort in bringing up these sorts of things, and will do their utmost to make you comfortable.

Also, try drinking even more water, upping your fiber intake with prunes, not supplements, and eating more fat.
posted by charmcityblues at 6:21 PM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Seconding upping both your fiber and your water intake. Don't skip breakfast.
Also, lactose intolerance is more likely to cause diarrhea than constipation, I thought. Irritable bowel syndrome is a possibility, I would think.

You really should consider talking to a doctor about this. Maybe start by getting a physical, if it has been a long time since you saw a doctor, and then mention this as part of your general health profile.
posted by gudrun at 6:22 PM on February 11, 2009


The Dannon Activia yogurt can help if you eat it every day, although I'm not 100% convinced that it's not just a result of the fiber in it. Also, consider the prunes that charmcityblues suggests. They are actually pretty tasty as a snack.
posted by cabingirl at 7:19 PM on February 11, 2009


It sounds like you're about a 1 on the Bristol Stool Scale, which is definitely considered constipation. If you are a vegetarian who is not getting enough fiber, there are likely many other imbalances in your diet, too. The amount of fruits, veggies, and whole grains that go into a balanced vegetarian diet really should give you plenty of fiber without supplements. So yeah, see a gastroenterologist or a nutritionist, but really I think your best bet is to shoot for "5 a day" servings of fruits and veggies, not only for this problem but for others that you may not be noticing yet.
posted by vytae at 7:23 PM on February 11, 2009


Start sprinkling ground flax seed on your food — it's especially good on yogurt and it's a great laxative.
posted by thisjax at 7:31 PM on February 11, 2009


Seconding giving up dairy. It can make a huge difference. Give it a week or two.
posted by Vaike at 7:34 PM on February 11, 2009


I've had similar issues off and on for years and years. Drinking 3L of water, metamucil, eating a crazy amount of fruit and veg kinda helps, but the only thing that's made a significant and immediate difference for me is taking a good probiotic like Polybac 8 daily. This particular version seems to be Australia specific, but it's a wondrous thing where bulking is concerned. It makes me feel like my insides are actually alive, in a good and wholly satisfying way.
posted by bingoes at 7:48 PM on February 11, 2009


Get some flax seeds and gradually add them to your diet. Flax is loaded with alpha linolenic acid (plant-derived omega 3 fatty acid). It'll add bulk, fat and it's good for you too. Make sure you also drink plenty of water.

As an aside, why am I not surprised that the Germans have a word for this? The nation that brought us the Poo Shelf Toilet strikes again.
posted by 26.2 at 8:10 PM on February 11, 2009


This has been going on for years, and is not painful or uncomfortable in any way. Just strange.

Everyone's answers seem to be predicated on the idea that this is something you need to change. via diet. This seems mildly orthorexic to me. If it's been going on a long time and you have no other health issues, it seems unlikely that it would be symptomatic of an illness. And why switch your diet around to 'improve' something that is causing no pain, discomfort or other problems?

There's a fair range of variation in normal bowel function anyway. It's important to remember that things like the Bristol Stool Scale are primarily diagnostic tools; they're intended to be used in a context of illness. Looking at the scale and deciding that you have an illness based on that is completely the wrong way round. If you're worried about this, have a chat with your doctor.
posted by xchmp at 1:46 AM on February 12, 2009


The book "What's Your Poo Telling You?" agrees with most of the posters above that 'pebble poo' (p. 60) can be attributed to a lack of fiber.

(My brother and law bought copies of this book for everyone he knows this Christmas because it could have saved him thousands of dollars in medical expenses when he ended up with an upper GI tract ulcer. It's great for sorting out poo WTFs.)
posted by Alison at 6:26 AM on February 12, 2009


Have you tried drinking more water? I would suggest a combination of more water and more fiber. That helps me when I'm in your situation.
posted by frecklefaerie at 10:45 AM on February 12, 2009


Maybe you are not getting enough exercise either.

I did not have a similar problem until I began working a mostly sedentary desk job.
posted by bad grammar at 5:06 PM on February 12, 2009


I remember I had the same thing happen when I took vitamin A supplements. Not sure if that's the reason but hope it helps.
posted by Takeyourtime at 11:35 PM on February 12, 2009


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