Hard, Small, or Pellet Like Stool - What Can it Mean?

Constipation and pellet stool - causes include a lack of water and exercise.
For some types of pellet like stool or constipation, drinking fluids throughout the day and getting exercise may help. Tara Moore/Taxi/Getty Images

If you have small stool that comes out hard and in pellet-like pieces, you may be constipated. Some people assume that if they go to the bathroom regularly they're not constipated, but the term is also defined as having hard, dry, or small stool that is difficult to pass.

What Causes Small, Hard, or Pellet-Like Stool?

The most common culprit is a lack of dietary fiber or fluids. The average adult in the U.S. eats about 15 grams of fiber a day, far less than the recommended amounts for adults over 50 (25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men).

Most of us don't drink enough fluids throughout the day, which can contribute to constipation. Ensure that you're getting enough fluids in your body to keep stool soft and easy to pass through the intestines.

A lack of physical activity can slow your metabolic processes, including digestion. Exercise helps to improve the movement of stool through the digestive tract.

Some medical causes of constipation include:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Cancer

The use of certain medications or supplements may lead to constipation in some people:

  • Narcotic pain medication
  • Antidepressants
  • Iron supplements
  • Laxative overuse
  • Antacids

You should always consult your health care provider if you consistently have dry, hard, or small stool, you have pencil-thin stools, constipation is a new problem, you're losing weight even though you're not dieting, or you have blood in your stool or painful bowel movements.



The treatment for pellet-like stool depends on the cause, the severity, and how long you’ve had constipation, but it may include drinking water and other fluids throughout the day, increasing your fiber intake, and engaging in physical activity every day.

Your health care provider may also recommend over-the-counter or prescription medicines or other treatment, depending on your age, medical history, and overall health.

If you're not sure how much fiber you're getting, try keeping a food diary for a week. If you're getting less than the recommended amount, upping your fiber intake may improve the frequency and consistency of your stool. Here are some fiber-rich foods to try:

  • Lentils (15.6 grams per cup)
  • Raspberries (8 grams per cup, raw)
  • Avocados (6.7 grams per half)
  • Oatmeal (4 grams per cup, cooked)
  • Chia seeds (5.5 grams per tablespoon)
  • Ground flaxseeds (1.9 grams per tablespoon)
  • Almonds (3.3 grams in 24)
  • Green peas (7 grams per cup)

Increase your intake of fiber gradually to avoid bloating and gas.

Fiber and water work together to keep you regular. When it comes to hydrating, many health care professionals advise that healthy people use thirst be their guide, and to look for varied sources of water such as fruits, vegetables, herbal teas, juices, soups, and other beverages.

Talk with your health care provider to find out how much water is good for you. Some people may need to drink more and some people may need less than the recommended intake.

Stress can play a role in constipation. Stress reduction techniques such as yogabreathingmassage therapyshiatsu, and aromatherapy, may help.

Regular exercise may help some people with constipation.

As a general goal, strive for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days.  

Related: Natural Remedies for Constipation

Herbal teas that may help ease indigestion by reducing bloating and gas include chamomile and lemon balm teas.

SEE ALSO: Loose Stool | Floating Stool | Dark or Bright Red Stool | Mucus in Stool | Green Stool | More Poop Colors Explained

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using any alternative medicine or making any change to your regimen.

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