Bowel habits are the time, size, amount, consistency and frequency of bowel movements throughout the day. A change in bowel habits is any alteration in regular bowel function.
Abnormal bowel habits, altered bowel function, altered bowel habit, change in bowel habits, change in bowel pattern, modification of bowel habits.
Bowel movements normally occur at approximately the same time each day. The feces (stool) itself should be soft enough that it can be passed without straining. Changes in our regular pattern – constipation or diarrhea – happen to all of us from time to time. If an altered pattern persists over time, it may indicate an underlying health problem and should be evaluated by a doctor. Bowel habits reflect one’s diet, fluid intake, exercise pattern and age among other factors.
Side effects of medications
Irritable bowel syndrome
Spinal cord injury
Diagnosis and Treatment
A thorough evaluation by a physician will be needed to determine the underlying cause of ongoing changes in bowel habits. Laboratory studies and x-ray studies may be done. Treatment will depend on the diagnosis.
Call your provider if:
You have sudden constipation and inability to pass stool or gas
Severe or sharp abdominal pain
Blood in the stool
Pus in the stool
Thin (in diameter) stools
A child goes three days without passing stool
An infant under two months of age is constipated
Unexplained weight loss
Written by: JC Jones MA, RN Reviewed by: Paul Auerbach, MD Written: September 18, 2007 Last Updated: September 30, 2007 Published By:
Healthline Networks Inc.