Flat Poop: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment


While it might not be the most comfortable topic to discuss, understanding our bowel movements is essential for gauging our digestive health. One peculiar and concerning phenomenon is the occurrence of flat poop. Generally, feces should have a well-formed, sausage-like shape. Flat poop, on the other hand, can indicate an underlying health issue that requires attention. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and potential implications of flat poop, as well as when it is necessary to seek medical advice.

What is Flat Poop?

Flat poop, also known as ribbon-like or pencil-thin poop, is characterized by feces that appear flattened and narrow, resembling a ribbon or pencil in shape. Instead of the typical cylindrical form, the stool takes on an abnormal appearance. While occasional variations in stool shape can be normal, persistent occurrences of flat poop warrant further investigation.

Causes of Flat Poop

  1. Constipation: One of the most common causes of flat poop is constipation. When stool remains in the colon for an extended period, excessive water is absorbed, leading to dry, hard stools that are more difficult to pass. As a result, the stool may become compressed and appear flattened.
  2. Bowel Obstruction: A bowel obstruction, whether partial or complete, can hinder the passage of stool through the intestine. This obstruction can be caused by factors like tumors, adhesions, or impacted feces, leading to pencil-thin stools.
  3. Colorectal Polyps or Tumors: Growths like polyps or tumors in the colon or rectum can narrow the passageway for stool, causing it to take on a flat shape as it passes through.
  4. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Conditions like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, which are types of inflammatory bowel disease, can cause inflammation and damage to the intestinal walls. This inflammation may result in changes to the shape and consistency of stool.
  5. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): IBS can cause alterations in bowel habits, leading to stool changes, including flat or ribbon-like poop.
  6. Diverticulitis: Inflamed pouches in the colon known as diverticula can cause discomfort and changes in stool shape.
  7. Anal Stricture: A narrowing of the anal canal due to scar tissue, inflammation, or other factors can also cause stool to appear flat.
  8. Rectal Prolapse: In severe cases, the rectum may protrude from the anus, affecting the shape of the stool as it passes through the rectal canal.

Symptoms Accompanying Flat Poop

Flat poop may be accompanied by other symptoms, depending on the underlying cause. These symptoms can include:

  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Bloating
  • Blood in the stool
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Feeling of incomplete evacuation after a bowel movement

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you notice persistent flat poop, experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, or have concerns about your digestive health, it is crucial to consult a gastroenterologist. While occasional changes in stool shape may not be alarming, ongoing and unexplained occurrences should not be ignored, as they could indicate an underlying condition that requires diagnosis and treatment.

Diagnosis and Treatment

To determine the cause of flat poop, your doctor may perform various diagnostic tests, including:

  • Stool analysis: To check for signs of infection, inflammation, or blood in the stool.
  • Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy: To examine the colon and rectum for abnormalities, polyps, or tumors.
  • Imaging studies: Such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans to visualize the gastrointestinal tract and identify obstructions or structural abnormalities.

The treatment for flat poop depends on the underlying cause. It may involve lifestyle changes, dietary modifications, medications, or, in some cases, surgical intervention.

Also read:

What happens if you don’t poop for 2-3 days? Is it cancer?

Why is my poop blue?

Stinky Poop: Causes and Solutions

Poop Color Guide: What It Means for Your Health

Stool Consistency: The Ultimate Guide and What To Do!

Bottom line

While flat poop might not always be a cause for immediate concern, it should not be ignored, especially if it persists or is accompanied by other symptoms. Monitoring your bowel movements and being attentive to changes in stool shape and consistency can provide valuable insights into your digestive health. If you notice any irregularities, do not hesitate to seek guidance from a gastroenterologist to ensure early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, promoting overall well-being and digestive health. Remember, proactive management of your health is essential for a better quality of life.

How can I contact gastroenterologist Dr. Zavos for an appointment?

Dr. Chris Zavos is a board-certified gastroenterologist and hepatologist, located in Thessaloniki Greece, and specifically in Kalamaria suburb, about 7 kilometres (4 miles) southeast of downtown Thessaloniki. His private office is at: Fanariou 8 street (near Aigaiou and Adrianoupoleos avenues), Kalamaria (Thessaloniki), Greece.

Thessaloniki International Airport is only 10 km away from his private office in Kalamaria and can be reached by taxi within 13 minutes from the airport.

Dr. Chris Zavos performs endoscopies at Bioclinic private hospital in downtown Thessaloniki (Mitropoleos 86 street).

You can contact Dr. Zavos at phone numbers: (+30)-6976596988 and (+30)-2311283833, or you can email him at czavos@ymail.com. Dr. Zavos responds to Greek and English languages.

Last update: 7 October 2023, 09:56


Gastroenterologist - Hepatologist, Thessaloniki

PhD at Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

PGDip at Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht, The Netherlands

Ex President, Hellenic H. pylori & Microbiota Study Group