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  • [What happens if you stop pooping?]

  • This episode's going to get real.

  • So... be prepared for that.

  • Let's start here: Nobody likes to be constipated.

  • Sometimes because of things like diet or stress, you don't poop for a little while.

  • It happens to me whenever I go on vacation and I'm like, "why?! "

  • "I'm supposed to be having a good time! This is not fun!"

  • Thankfully, it's usually fixable with coffee or and a bunch of fiber, have a couple bran muffins!

  • But if that little while turns into a long time, and you just stop pooping entirely...

  • Things can get pretty ugly.

  • Poop is your body's way of getting rid of undigested or undigestible food and other wastes that your body produces.

  • After the stuff travels through your small and large intestine, it ends up at the rectum, which stretches and sends a signal to your brain, "it's time to go!"

  • Sometimes, though, things can stop chugging along as nature intended.

  • That's where constipation comes in, and it can be caused by anything from holding it in too long to a lack of exercise.

  • Some diseases can also make your intestines struggle to propel the poop along.

  • Parkinson's or inflammatory bowel diseases, for example, can prevent the muscles and nerves in the colon from working properly, so it can't pass along feces or gas.

  • In severe cases, that can cause a megacolon, and that's the actual name for this thing.

  • It's an abnormally large or swollen colon, which can create a fecal backup.

  • Regardless of what causes it, though, nothing good happens when your poop gets stuck in your body.

  • When it hangs out in the colon, more and more water is sucked out of it.

  • That makes it harder, which, in turn, makes it more difficult for your body to push out.

  • And when you do try, you have to push harder.

  • That strain can cause hemorrhoids, which are inflamed veins in your rectum, or anal fissures, which are small tears in the lining of the anus.

  • All this sounds so fun!

  • If you don't go for a long, long, long time, your poop gets too hard and dry, it can also cause something called a fecal impaction: a hardened mass of stool that can't move at all.

  • Those masses can cause nausea and ulcers, and press on the bladder, causing urinary incontinence.

  • They can even cause the colon to perforate or rupture which is life-threateningly dangerous and requires surgery.

  • And in really, really, really rare cases, things can get, goodness.

  • A severe fecal impaction can actually make intestines contract in reverse.

  • In an effort to get things moving, they'll contract and relax, which, unfortunately, can send their contents in the wrong direction.

  • They're just tying to save your life!

  • Liquid from the small intestine backs up into the stomach, and causes the unfortunately named condition: fecal vomiting.

  • It's not quite as nasty as it sounds, like, it's not fully formed stools or anything, but also definitely not pleasant!

  • Thankfully, fecal impactions can be broken up with laxatives, or can be broken up manually by a doctor.

  • If someone is chronically constipated, or develop fecal impactions, their intestinal muscles might also weaken over time, making it more difficult to regulate the pooping process on their own.

  • So make sure to eat plenty of fiber, don't hold it for too long, and if you're not pooping regularly, go talk to a doctor, because the alternatives.... no!

  • Thanks for asking, and thanks to our patrons on Patreon who keep answers like this coming!

  • Cause look, sponsors aren't going to sponsor content like this!

  • If you want to join us for a monthly Google Hangout, or just support the show, you can go to patreon.com/scishow.

[What happens if you stop pooping?]

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What Happens If You Stop Pooping?

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    Winnie Liao posted on 2020/07/09
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