6 Factors Which Affect Bowel Habits

Bowel movement is a process of emptying out waste from the diet through the intestine. Having a regular bowel movement is very important for healthy living. Changes in the bowel movement, if lasting for long could signal a health problem.

A Normal Bowel Movement

It is hard to say what a normal bowel movement can be, as it varies from people to people. A normal bowel movement can be anything from one to three times a day to three times a week. It still can be considered normal if you have any irregularity as a regular pattern of bowel movement. More or less frequent bowels would not be considered any medical emergency, but if continued for a longer period of time could be a pointer to a problem which would require medical intervention.

Factors Which Affect Bowel Habits

6 Factors Which Affect Bowel Habits

The frequency of bowel movement can depend on the following factors:

  1. Fluid Intake

    Fluid intake is very important, as a large amount of it is absorbed by the large intestine, to make the stool soft. A hard stool is difficult to pass. If experiencing constipation increasing the fluid intake is must, to regulate the bowel.

  2. Age

    As the age advances the movement of the gut also slows down. This affects the bowel movements. It is mostly observed, that elderly people take medicines to regulate the bowel.

  3. Diet

    What you eat plays a big role in how your bowel movements are. The fiber in the diet is required for a healthy bowel movement. Fiber is of two types. Soluble fiber makes the stool soft and the insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool and helps it pass through the intestine. A diet rich in fiber promotes regularity of bowel and prevents constipation.

  4. Medical History

    Certain illnesses such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or stomach flu can affect bowel health. They bring in a change in the frequency of bowel. It can make it very frequent or even stool not being present for a few days.

  5. Hormones

    Some hormones such as estrogen and progesterone affect the frequency of bathroom trips. Some women complain much frequent stool at the beginning of the menstrual cycle and even slight constipation at the end of it.

  6. Social Factors

    Some people feel uncomfortable using a public bathroom, using the toilet at work or when using a bathroom surrounded by people. This is why they hold it for longer than necessary. This hardens the stool and makes it difficult to pass.

What Is An Abnormal Stool?

A stool which is very watery and loose indicates some infection. Such stool moves frequently through the colon. This leads to dehydration and may cause the deficiency of nutrients because the intestine is not able to absorb nutrients when the stool is moving so quickly.

If a person is constipated, the stool is pellet-like, hard, and difficult to pass. There is an incomplete emptying of the bowel. A constipated bowel can result in stool impaction, hemorrhoids, and fissures as a lot of pressure is exerted in moving out the hard stool.

Most often the irregularity in the bowel is resolved in a short period of time and is not a cause of much concern. If it doesn’t, and you observe the symptoms such as blood in stool, black stool, pencil thin stool, vomiting, or severe abdominal pain, consult a doctor to assess the reason.

If the stool is frequent and the consistency is normal, there might not be anything like a problem going within, but if it’s too watery and loose care should be taken to meet up the fluid and electrolyte loss.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 20, 2021

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