Normal Bowel Movements – Identify Normal or Abnormal Bowel Movements

There is no particular definition for normal bowel movement.  Most people are not aware about what a normal or an abnormal bowel is. Normal bowel movement cannot be the same for everyone. It varies from person to person. Any change in the color, frequency and consistency of bowel movement is termed as “change in bowel habits”.

Infrequent bouts of diarrhea, unusual discoloration of stool, constipation are a few common signs of abnormal bowel movements. Most people would have experienced these at least once at some point of time. Normal bowel movements are very essential in monitoring the overall health of an individual. Abnormal bowel habit is called when you recognize something is not right.

Bowel once a day –

Most of us believe that passing bowel once a day is normal. But this is not the case with everyone. You cannot set rules for individuals based on the frequency of bowel movements. The usual range of a normal bowel is set as 2 times per day to 3 times a week. If the frequency gets lower than this, then you are believed to be suffering from constipation. If the frequency increases, then you may be diagnosed to have suffered from diarrhea.

Size and shape –

The feces should be soft and must be able to pass easily. But people might have softer or harder stools compared to others on a normal basis. The color of the stool should be brown to golden brown. The texture of stool is supposed to be similar to peanut butter normally. The size of the stool is found similar to a sausage.

Constipation –

More than 2 billion of the total count of doctor visits is because of constipation. Constipation is a very common problem. The stool becomes dry, hard and lumpy, which makes the passage of the stool difficult and painful. Constipation is often associated with discomfort and bloating. Proper diet, healthy lifestyle and drinking plenty of water will help in reducing the discomfort.

Diarrhea –

Sometimes, you might have noticed passing loose, watery stool more than thrice a day. Such condition is called diarrhea. Diarrhea is observed to last for about 2-3 days and more often do not need any treatment. But if it lasts for more than 3 days, then medical advices are important. Complications increase when diarrhea is accompanied by dehydration, fever or severe pain. Bloody, tarry or black stool must also be checked immediately. The basic causes of diarrhea are food intolerance, infection or side effects of any medication.

Change in bowel habits

Abnormal bowel can be an indication of any serious underlying problem. Change in bowels is a serious concern in people above 50s. Constant change in the frequency, consistency, shape and color of bowels must not be left unattended.

  • Blood in the stool – frank blood observed in the stool is never normal. These can be a sign of mild hemorrhoid to severe infection or colon cancer. It requires immediate medical evaluation.
  • Black stool – eating certain foods can make the stool black and tarry. Such conditions may also accompany foul odor of the stool. Taking iron supplements or internal bleeding can also result in black, tarry stools.
  • Red or maroon stool – eating red colored foods, hemorrhoids, colon polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, anal fissures, colon cancers, diverticular bleeding are often the cause of red or maroon colored stools.
  • Green stool – taking iron supplements, eating foods with artificial green coloring agents or decreased colonic transit time are often the causes of green stool.
  • Pale-colored or clay-colored stool – lack of bile salts, hepatitis, inclusion of barium during a recent barium enema test, taking antacids can result in pale colored stools. In such cases, the stools appear similar to the color of the clay. Our stool gets the brownish color from the bile salts and would appear green in its absence.

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