Change in Bowel Habits: Causes and When to See a Doctor?
A change in bowel habits refers to a change in feces, such as number, consistency, color, or how much control you have over when you pass your bowels (incontinence). While changes in bowel movements aren’t necessarily cause for concern, they could be indicative of more serious health problems. Seeking guidance from experts, such as those at Diamond Gastroenterology, is recommended to accurately address any concerns related to changes in bowel habits. For more information, contact us or schedule an appointment online. We are conveniently located at 1010 Lake St, Suite 424, Oak Park, IL 60301.
Table of Contents:
Bowel habits can differ greatly from one individual to another and even from day to day. However, a sudden and noticeable transformation in your usual bowel routine might signal an underlying health concern.
Particularly noteworthy are substantial shifts in frequency or appearance that coincide with other problems such as diarrhea, constipation, or abdominal discomfort. Persistent changes in bowel habits can be linked to conditions like IBS, IBD, thyroid disorders, celiac disease, or even cancer.
These alterations in bowel habits can be attributed to an array of factors, ranging from temporary infections to underlying medical conditions. It’s also worth considering that medications can play a role in altering bowel patterns.
Check the side effects listed on your medication’s packaging or reach out to your doctor or pharmacist if you’ve recently begun a new medication and notice changes in your bowel habits.
The frequency and texture of bowel movements can serve as valuable indicators of overall health. Nevertheless, experiencing more frequent bowel movements than usual, when taken alone, doesn’t necessarily warrant concern.
On the flip side, having fewer than three bowel movements within a week could indicate constipation, especially if the stool is firm and challenging to pass. Conversely, three or more loose, watery bowel movements within a day might point to diarrhea. The key aspect to consider with frequent, solid bowel movements is whether this pattern is a departure from the individual’s norm.
In many instances, alterations in bowel habits are transient reactions to specific foods, infections, or caffeine intake, which can often be addressed through self-care measures.
However, erring on the side of caution is advisable since shifts in bowel movements could potentially signify a more serious issue. Seeking guidance from experts, such as those at Diamond Gastroenterology, is recommended to accurately address any concerns related to changes in bowel habits.
There are a wide range of potential red flags to watch for when it comes to changes in bowel habits. Ongoing bleeding or persistent pain that doesn’t resolve should raise concern and prompt a visit to a gastrologist. Some notable indicators include stool that appears black which could signal intestinal bleeding and should not be ignored.
If you notice blood or significant mucus in your bowel movements, it’s crucial to reach out to a doctor for guidance. The presence of fresh red blood might often be associated with hemorrhoids or minor tears, usually healing on their own, but recurrent instances should be discussed with a healthcare professional, especially if other conditions like piles haven’t been ruled out. The presence of mucus in bowel movements may point to inflammation in the colon, potentially linked to various bowel conditions.
Additional issues to be cautious of include persistent bloating, which might indicate small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) requiring medical attention. Abdominal pain that lingers, the sensation of an abdominal lump, or significant changes in your bowel habits, whether an increase or reduction in frequency, should also be taken seriously.
Unexplained and unintentional weight loss, along with persistent fatigue or tiredness, should not be dismissed. Should you notice any of these signs, seeking medical evaluation is recommended to ensure appropriate care and attention.
While changes in bowel movements aren’t necessarily cause for concern, they could be indicative of more serious health problems. Should changes in bowel patterns persist beyond a span of a few days, it’s advisable to get in touch with a healthcare provider.
If you experience severe symptoms like the presence of blood or mucus in stools, intense pain or cramps, or unrelenting nausea or vomiting, seeking immediate medical attention is crucial.
Treatment for bowel movement issues is available at Diamond Gastroenterology. Book your next appointment now and let our team of professionals help keep your heath in check at all times! For more information, contact us or schedule an appointment online. We are conveniently located at 1010 Lake St, Suite 424, Oak Park, IL 60301. We serve patients from Oak Park IL, River Forest IL, Cicero IL, River Grove IL, Forest Park IL, Berwyn IL, Melrose Park IL, Elmwood Park IL, Chicago IL, La Grange IL, Broadview IL, and surrounding areas.