What Does Small or Narrow Stool Indicate?

Stool is the semi-solid material that is ejected from our body in an act of defecation. It is the waste material which is discharged from the body after the digestion of food. Normally, a normal stool is of 2 to 5 cm in diameter. Small or narrow stool is something which is not actually a solid rather a thin or pencil width stool. If it occurs once or twice then it is not harmful; however if it occurs on a daily basis then it might be a sign of health problem which requires medical attention as soon as possible. If it is happening on a regular basis, it might be a sign of obstruction of the colon.

Symptoms Associated with Small or Narrow Stool

There may be a chance that these symptoms can be seen for a day or two but that should not scare you. However, if small or narrow stool lasts for many days then it should not be overlooked. The associated symptoms of small or narrow stools could be:

What Does Small or Narrow Stool Indicate?

What Does Small or Narrow Stool Indicate?

If a person is excreting small or narrow stool for a long time, it indicates the presence of certain health condition. The different health condition which a small or narrow stool indicate are:


Constipation occurs due to low fiber diet and lack of liquids. Fewer intakes of fiber and fluids in your diet may result in small, narrow or stringy stool. Addition of fiber to the diet adds bulk to the stool and increases its size. Intake of more fibers can be done by eating fruits and vegetables, wholegrain such as oats, broccoli, etc.

Colon Polyps:

Colon is basically a long hollow tube where the body makes and stores the stool. It is present at the bottom of the digestive tract. Colonic polyps are caused due to abnormal tissue growth. Some of the polyps are harmless like hyperplastic polyps which do not develop into cancer; however, some of the polyps results in colon cancer.

Twisted Bowel as a Factor for Small and Narrow Stool:

A volvulus also called as twisted bowel is caused due to bowel obstruction. It occurs as the intestine twists around itself resulting in the blockage of food and liquid passing through. It can lead to the blood in stool, abdominal pain and constipation.

Hernia as Another Cause for Small and Narrow Stool:

Hernia occurs when a piece of tissue or an organ spills out through a weak area of the connective tissue known as fascia which holds it in place. Within a hernia if a part of bowel is trapped, bowel becomes narrow and in some severe conditions blood supply to a section of bowel wall is broken off causing additional complication.

Fecal Impaction Causing Small and Narrow Stool:

Fecal impaction is a hard mass of stool that is stuck in colon such a way that it can’t leave the body. It can lead to a serious situation if ignored or not addressed in a proper way. Fecal impaction is mainly found in people with older age who have bowel issues. If the condition is severe, it leads to abdominal pain, bloating and loss of appetite in some cases.

What Foods to Eat When Having Small or Narrow Stool?

It is very important to know what food we are eating. Foods are the main medication for a healthy life. If we consume food in right amount and maintain a balanced diet, many of our problems related to our health are solved. It is seen that low-fiber diet and lack of liquids can lead to small or narrow stool. Less intake of fiber make stool lose its bulk and it becomes thin and stringy. Foods rich in fiber which must be taken to avoid small or narrow stool are:

Fruits that have High Fiber Content

Pears: A medium sized pear contains 5.5 grams of fiber. It is nutritious and tasty as well as best sources of fiber in the list of fruits.

Avocado: Avocado is rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium and magnesium. Fiber content is 6.7 grams per 100 grams. Hence, it must be consumed to increase the stool bulk and avoid small and narrow stool.

Apples: Apples are always considered as the healthiest fruit and relatively high in fiber. Fiber content in a medium-sized apple is 4.4 grams. It is the tastiest fruit available which you can eat.

Bananas to Avoid Small or Narrow Stool: Banana contains 3.1 grams fiber with a good source of vitamin C and many nutrients and thus must be taken to avoid small and narrow stool.

Other high fiber content fruits are blueberries with 2.4% fiber content and blackberries with 5.3% fiber content.

Vegetables that have High Fiber Content

Carrots: Carrots are the highly nutritious root vegetable available in the market with 2.8 grams of fiber per 100 grams.

Beets: Beets is a root vegetable with 2.8 grams fiber per 100 grams. It contains various nutrients like copper, manganese, and potassium. It also helps in blood pressure regulation as it is loaded with inorganic nitrates. Thus, it must be consumed for avoid having narrow stool.

Broccoli: Broccoli is rich in dozens of nutrients. Compared to other vegetables it is relatively high in protein and it contains 2.6 gram fiber in 100 grams thus helping in controlling small and narrow stool.

Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are very delicious and have a nice sweet flavor. It has 3.8 grams of fiber, high in vitamin B, and other various minerals.

Other high fiber vegetables are spinach with 2.2% fiber, tomatoes with 1.2% fiber and kale containing 3.6% fiber.

Nuts and Legumes to Eat when having Small or Narrow Stool

Kidney Beans: Fiber contains is 11.3 grams per cup of cooked beans. It is loaded with high proteins and various other nutrients. Thus, it must be consumed to avoid getting small or narrow stool.

Broccoli: Fiber content is 8.3 per 100 grams.

Chickpeas: It contains 7.6 per 100 grams of fiber and hence must be consumed on a regular basis.

Almonds: Almonds contain healthy fats, magnesium, vitamin E. Almonds are considered as most popular tree nuts. It has 12.5% grams per 100 grams of fiber.

Chia Seeds: Chia seeds are highly nutritious and are the single best source of fiber available on the planet. It is a tiny black seeds which contains 34.4 grams per 100 grams of fiber which is quite high and must thus be consumed to avoid small or narrow stool.

Other high-fiber nuts are coconuts with 9% fiber, walnuts with 7% fiber, pistachios with 10% fiber, and pumpkin seeds with 18.4% of fiber.

Other than this there are other food sources with high fiber contents, which are Wholegrain, whole wheat bread, barley, oats, whole wheat pasta.

What to do to Avoid Having Small or Narrow Stool?

Before we understand what not to eat it is important to know how we eat. Eating quickly without fully chewing the food, it is most likely that the food will pass through the digestive tract without being broken down completely. Eating too quickly can lead to digestive issues as the foods are not completely broken down and it is passed in the solid form.

Management of Small or Narrow Stool

  • If the small or narrow stool is due to constipation, drink water as much as you can and eat more fiber rich foods.
  • If celiac disease is the cause of narrow stool, try to keep your diet free from gluten. Things will be under control if the diet is properly maintained.
  • If the problem is due to intestinal infections or salmonella, try drinking plenty of water to fill up the fluids lost due to vomiting and diarrhea. Antibiotics can clear up things within a few days.
  • If the stringy stool is because of parasite or any other infection, you need to consult a doctor and proper medication to clear things up. In some cases, anti-parasitic drugs are used to treat parasites.
  • Colorectal cancer takes time as it is treated by removing part of colon and the surrounding lymph nodes. In some cases, chemotherapy, drug therapy or radiation therapy is taken into consideration.
  • When hernia or bowel obstruction is the cause for small or narrow stool, you need a combination of surgery and medication. Utmost care is needed for these cases.


Small or narrow stool might not be of major concern a lot of times; however, if it happens for a long time then one needs to see a doctor as soon as possible since it can indicate quite a few health conditions. Depending on the causes, the doctor would suggest appropriate remedies to stop or avoid having small or narrow stool.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 18, 2018

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