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Noticed a narrowing of bowel movements, have become longer and narrower. Cause?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2011
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I have recently noticed a narrowing of my bowel movements to about half of what they used to be. They have become much longer and narrower. I am in good health and feel well . I have noticed this for some months now and my stools have not returned to normal. What do you think could be the cause of this ?
Posted Wed, 11 Sep 2013 in Digestion and Bowels
Answered by Dr. Varnika J.P. 58 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Any blood or pus in stools?

Detailed Answer:

Thank you for your query.

Many people believe that the definition of a normal bowel movement is having 1 movement each day, but that is not true for everyone.
The general range for bowel movements is from 3 times a day to 3 times a week. Less than 3 movements a week may indicate constipation, and more than 3 watery stools a day could indicate diarrhea.

Hence,change in bowel movements can be due to-
1.Adjusting of the body to ageing
3.Change in food pattern
4.Recent illness
5.Very rarely cancer

It is very commonly seen in people above the age of 50 that the digestive system starts slowing down and the stools formed are softer and at larger intervals. It is just body's way to get conditioned to the process of ageing.

As you have mentioned you are in good health, I see no reason to worry.

I would like to ask few questions here-
1.Can you please describe the consistency,quantity per stool and number of stools passed per day.
2.Any associated bleeding,pain or discomfort while passing stools.
3.Any change in colour of the stools
4.Any recent illness or reduction of appetite
5.Any change in food pattern

Some of the Home tips for better bowel movements are-

1.Drink lots of water-
Water is absorbed into the body throughout the entire length of the colon as it is a crucial requirement of the body, but is also needed to help move waste materials through. This means that insufficient water intake can cause stools to form way before the waste materials reach the end of the colon, which can cause constipation.

2.Eat fibre XXXXXXX foods regularly-
Fibre adds bulk to the waste material that travels through our large intestine, which is essential to the colon's ability to turn waste materials into well formed stools. A diet XXXXXXX in vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains ensures high fibre intake.

3.Ensure adequate intake of healthy fats-
All of our cells, including those of our colon and nervous system, require a constant supply of healthy fatty acids and cholesterol to remain fully functional.

4.Eat adequate amounts-
When we eat sizeable amounts rather than just picking at food throughout the day, we stimulate stretch receptors in our stomach that are responsible for triggering normal and mass waves of contraction throughout the small and large intestines. This promotes regular movement of waste material through the colon.

5.Exercise in moderation

6.You can also take Pro-Biotics.These are the normal bacteria which colonise the gut and help in stool formation.Taking up space and resources, they also help to prevent infection by harmful bacteria, fungi, and parasites

By following the above steps you can see change within a month.

Thank you,
Wishing you good health.
You can contact me for further queries.
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