Change in Bowel Habits

by Sam Malone

There is no particular definition of what constitutes a normal bowel movement. Many people consider going once a day to be the norm but that is a common misconception. The frequency of bowel movements is very individualistic and may vary from thrice daily to even thrice weekly. However, any change in bowel habits (frequency or the type of stools passed) should be treated with utmost concern and reported to your health care provider immediately. This is because the causes of a change in bowel habits may vary from the inconsequential to the extremely serious category.

Fewer bowel movements than normal are a sign of constipation. The stools will also be hard and can cause quite a lot of pain in their passage. The main cause of constipation is a lack of adequate fiber in the diet. Drinking less amounts of water or fluids such as caffeinated beverages and alcohol which have a diuretic action, can all lead to dehydration and cause constipation. Other causes of constipation include thyroid disorders, intestinal disorders that slow the motion of the intestines and blockages of the colon or rectum as may occur in the case of colorectal cancer. At times it may also be caused by side effect of certain medications such as codeine.

Frequent bowel movements or diarrhea is caused by irritation to the gastrointestinal tract. It may be caused by a number of conditions such as viral gastroenteritis, food poisoning, parasitical infestation, bacterial or fungal overgrowth, hyperthyroidism, diabetic neuropathy, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, lactose intolerance and side effects of certain medications such as antibiotics. The main danger from diarrhea can come from dehydration that is caused by the passage of several watery stools.

Apart from a change in bowel frequency, consistency, color and shape, other signs of unhealthy bowels include blood and mucus in the stools. Blood in the stools could be symptomatic of hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, fissures, fistulas or even colorectal cancer.

Once the cause of the change in your bowel movements has been diagnosed, your treatment will begin. Whatever the cause, there are certain home remedies you can try that may help provide you with relief. However, you should consult your health care provider before trying any of these home remedies.

Home Cures for Constipation Include:

  • Increasing Intake of Dietary Fiber: This measure will help regularize your bowel movements. Eat plenty of fruits and green vegetables. Substitute whole wheat bread for white bread.
  • Increase Fluid Intake: Drink plenty of water especially in the summer months. If you are not fond of drinking plain water, try drinking freshly squeezed fruit juices instead. Two fruit juices that are very effective in curing constipation are prune juice and pear juice.
  • Castor Oil: Although it has a terrible taste, drinking 3 to 4 tablespoons of castor oil can cure some of the most stubborn cases of constipation.
  • Yoga: Certain yoga asanas or poses are very effective in stimulating the intestines and can be used as a treatment for constipation.
Home Cures for Diarrhea Include:

  • Increase Fluid Intake: The body loses tremendous amounts of fluids and electrolytes due to the frequent bowel movements and these need to be replaced to prevent the onset of dehydration. Drinking plenty of pulpy fruit juices will also help but avoid juices of fruits such as prunes and pears which can aggravate the problem.
  • Increase Intake of Dietary Fiber: Eat plenty of high fiber foods such as green vegetables and fruits. This will help to regularize your bowel movements.
  • Discuss any dietary changes with your health care provider before implementing them. This is because you may have certain dietary restrictions placed on you depending on the cause of your abnormal bowel movements.

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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