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What Are the Common Causes of Pus in Stool?

By L. Baran
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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While stool is not a topic most people like to discuss or even think about, any changes or abnormalities in stool can be indicative of health problems and should be investigated. A small amount of mucus in stool is normal and necessary, but visible amounts can be the result of a number of different medical conditions. Pus in stool is a common symptom of the digestive condition irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but may also suggest Crohn's disease, an intestinal blockage, anal fissures, infections or colitis. It may also be indicative of the presence of an abscess somewhere along the digestive tract.

A small amount of mucus is necessary to move waste along the digestive tract, but pus differs from mucus in its consistency and color. Pus in stool will appear as a thick white, yellow or, rarely, green substance. Pus is made up of white blood cells, debris from other cells, and dead tissue. It is generated in the body as a response to infection, often caused by a build up of bacteria. While a single instance in stool is not cause for alarm, repeated or chronic pus in stool requires further investigation.

There are two major types of digestive conditions that can result in pus cells being present in stools. One is irritable bowel syndrome and the other is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which encompasses the two conditions known as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. IBS is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints in adults and adolescents, and it is characterized by chronic abdominal pain, gas, cramping and either severe constipation or diarrhea. Crohn's disease is an autoimmune disorder that leads to chronic inflammation in the intestines and is indicated by abdominal pain, severe tiredness, fever and weight loss. In the case of ulcerative colitis, people experience severe diarrhea, blood in stool, fever and joint pain. Both IBS and IBD can be managed via diet and medical management.

When pus builds up in the body, abscesses can from that cause intestinal blockages and make it difficult for waste to pass. Abscesses need to be treated promptly because they can lead to dangerous amounts of bacteria and can cause significant issues if they burst. If an intestinal blockage exists, or chronic constipation occurs, a person may experience an anal fissure. This is a tear in the skin around the rectal opening that results in bleeding and pus in the stool. Most fissures can be treated at home, but some may require minor surgery. If pus in stool is accompanied by blood, a fever or severe abdominal pain, medical treatment should be sought as soon as possible.

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Discussion Comments
By ysmina — On Oct 10, 2013

I have irritable bowel syndrome. The first time I saw pus in my stool, I was alarmed. I asked my doctor about it but she said that this is normal with IBS. Apparently, it has to do with inflammation.

By SteamLouis — On Oct 09, 2013

@donasmrs-- That's a good question. Pus in stool doesn't just happen to humans, it can happen to pets as well. Interestingly, the causes can be the same.

Like the article said, if pus in stool is not a common occurrence, if the pus isn't colored and if it isn't accompanied by blood, there is probably nothing to worry about.

Occasional clear pus can be natural. In humans and in pets, the colon produces mucus to aid the removal of wastes. For example, eating a different type of food can cause more mucus.

If pus in stool is frequent though, it can be a sign of infection or a problem in the colon.

By donasmrs — On Oct 08, 2013

What are the causes of pus in stool in cats?

I've noticed that my cat's stool has pus sometimes. It doesn't happen all the time, maybe once a month. I notice it while I'm cleaning her litter. The pus doesn't have a color, it's clear and it looks like it's coating the stool. Is this normal or should I be worried?

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