Extremely frequent or infrequent bowel movements can negatively impact quality of life – and can be a sign of an underlying GI condition. There are numerous causes of both diarrhea and constipation. A systematic approach to accurate diagnosis is necessary for effective treatment of these conditions.
Constipation is defined as a reduction in the frequency of bowel movements that creates discomfort. Common causes of constipation include:
Constipation can occasionally be a presenting sign of colon cancer – which can be diagnosed by a colonoscopy. If you have had a change in your bowel habits or are tired of struggling to have a bowel movement, you should seek an opinion from your gastroenterologist.
Diarrhea is defined as loosening of the stool, with a change in consistency, frequency and occasionally with an increase in urgency. Diarrhea can be caused by:
If you have consistent, chronic diarrhea, contact your GI doctor, who will develop a workup to diagnose potential issues, which include stool studies, blood work and occasionally an EGD and colonoscopy to obtain biopsies from the small intestine and colon. A hydrogen breath test may be ordered as well.
If you have already visited Dr. Ari Nowain, you can get in touch with him at the Center for GI Health through Patient Fusion website. Here you can ask questions and be in direct contact with Dr. Ari Nowain!