Frequent Bowel Movements

A bowel movement is the excretion of fecal matter (stool) via the anus. This typically occurs in average human once/twice a day, or at least three times a week. Too few bowel movements, or less than average, is generally referred to as constipation. If it occurs more often than the norm, then it is often classified as diarrhea.

What Are Frequent Bowel Movements?

The rate in which an individual excretes fecal matter varies person-by-person. This means that one individual may commonly pass two stools a day, whereas another individual may pass one stool every two days. For this reason, there is no specific guideline to define what would be considered as an overly frequent excretion of feces.

What should be noted is what seems abnormal to you. If you are experiencing more bowel movements than usually, then it may indicate a problem. The ease in which you are able to excrete fecal matter is also important, there should be no strain or push, if there is, then something may be wrong.

What Causes Frequent Bowel Movements?

Some common causes of this occurrence include the followings:

  • Changes in lifestyle such as more water intake, having more whole grains, fruits and fibers, and exercising more than usual. In this case, the bowel movement changes are normal and self-limiting. 
  • Food poisoning
  • Bile malabsorption
  • Celiac disease (gluten hypersensitivity)
  • Diverticulitis (inflammation of the colon)
  • Allergic reaction to food or medications
  • Disease of the gallbladder
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Viral gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach/intestines caused by numerous viruses)

In rare cases, a serious underlying health condition might be the cause. This includes:

What to Do When Frequent Bowel Movements Strike

1. Try an Over-The-Counter Medication

Over-the-counter medication that is manufactured with the specific intent to stop diarrhea can be beneficial to subside frequent movements of the bowel. It is important to remember that this will not cure the cause of the diarrhea.

2. Avoid Caffeine

Products that contain caffeine, including coffee, tea, chocolate, and other foods, can increase the frequency of your bowel movements. If you are experiencing consistent loose stools, it may be wise to limit or eradicate your caffeine consumption.

3. Limit Your Intake of Sugar

Foods high in sugar, such as sweets, fizzy soda pop, and cereals, can lead to unwanted cramping and increased stools. It would be wise to cut your intake on these foods if you are experiencing an increased frequency of stools.

4. Remain Sufficiently Hydrated

If you have frequent bowel movements, then you will likely lose a lot of fluid when passing stools. It is important to replenish these fluids lost. Water is the best option for this, sugary drinks should be avoided.

6. Limiting the Amount of Milk-Products You Consume

If you require calcium, it can be found in abundance in food sources such as broccoli, turnip greens, spinach, tofu, salmon or sardines on the bone, as well as products fortified with calcium, or calcium supplements.

7. Trying To Limit the Amount You Eat

It may be wise to eat smaller meals more frequently (such as six small meals a day, as opposed to the average three meals of breakfast, lunch, and dinner). If this proves difficult (due to other commitments), trying to lower the amount of food you consume per meal.

8. Keep a Diary of the Food That You Consume

If you find that you are frequently suffering from increased bowel movements, or diarrhea, then it may be wise to keep a record of what you take everyday. This will allow you to ascertain exactly what food has brought about the occurrence of frequent bowel movements, meaning you can avoid that particular food in the future.

Worrying Symptoms Associated with Frequent Bowel Movements 

Symptoms that may be experienced alongside include:

  • Abdominal pain/discomfort
  • Abdominal inflammation
  • Exceptionally foul smelling feces
  • Blood within your stool
  • A change of colour from your normal stool
  • Diarrhea
  • Inability to control bowels
  • Extreme gas
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Fever
  • Pain when excreting feces
  • Urgency of the bowel
  • Chronic/severe aches all over the body
  • Dehydration
  • General feeling of unease
  • Loss of weight

Some more severe symptoms which can accompany frequent bowel movements include:

  • Impaired sense of consciousness
  • Change in mental status
  • Severe fever
  • Insufficient urine production
  • Pus in stools
  • Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
  • Severe pain in the rectal area
  • Bleeding of the rectal area
  • Hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
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