Posted By HFHSM.D.-rf on May 02, 1998 at 15:30:28:
In Reply to: Excessive bowel movements posted by Jason on April 29, 1998 at 19:47:19:
I am a 23 year old male in fairly good health. It was recently discovered that I have a Horseshoe Kidney, and during my many visits to the urologist, I was asked if I had any other problems. I told them that it was common for me to have 5-6 bowel movements a day. I mentioned this several times, and I was told it was normal, as long as I wasn't bleeding, etc. More and more I am coming to feel that this is NOT normal, and am experiencing more and more frequent bouts of diarrhea, about 1-2 days out of every 4-5, although the total amount of bowel movements remains about 5-6 a day. I have not been to a Gastroentorologist yet because of the doctors opionion that noting is amiss. I don't really experience any other symptoms such as indigestion or pain. Could this be tied to a food allergy, or is it more likely an internal disfunction? Is it really common to consistantly have 5-6 bowel movements a day? I'm fairly slender; could it be conected to a malabsorption problem? Any help you could provide in pointing me in the right direction is greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your question regarding bowel patterns. Because bowel pattern is not a subject of usual social discourse, most of our information regarding the topic comes from product advertisements or news interest stories that tend to emphasize the bizarre. There is a great misconception regarding what constitutes a normal bowel pattern. The frequency of bowel patterns varies greatly among people who do not have gastrointestinal illnesses. Between 2 movements per week and 3 movements per day is the pattern of defecation for 95% of healthy people interviewed randomly. The other 5% of healthy individuals had either more or less stool. In your case, 5-6 stool per day is not abnormal if this has always been your pattern. If, however, your pattern of defecation is changing ( as you indicate in your e-mail), then it is appropriate to be investigated if for no other reason to exclude disease and to provide you peace of mind.
Before you visit your physician you should mentally exclude lifestyle changes that could affect your bowel pattern. Have you changed your diet? Increased fiber, salads, or drinking soft drinks or milk can affect bowel pattern. Have you travelled to a destination at which you might have acquired an intestinal infection?
With regard to a cause of your symptoms, the list of possible diseases is quite extensive. Patients may have intestinal problems even though they do not have blood in the stool. The diagnosis of food allergies can be difficult to establish and is often a diagnosis of exclusion after other causes are eliminated. You are correct that malabsorption must be excluded.
If you are concerned regarding this problem you should see a physician who can obtain an a detailed history. Questions to be asked include size, consistency and shape of stool, presence of blood, mucus, grease or oil, frequency of nocturnal bowel movements, characteristics of any abdominal or rectal pains, presence of rectal urgency, current medications, previous and concurrent illnesses. Based on the history and the results of a physical examination, the physician can determine which if any tests are needed in your situation.
This response is offered for your general information and should not replace the conclusions drawn from a careful and complete evaluation by your physician.
If you wish to be seen at our institution, Henry Ford Hospital, please call our PHYSICIAN REFERRAL LINE at(313) 876-2393 and request consultation with Dr. Fogel, one of our experts in the diagnosis and treatment of intestinal disease.
Best of luck.
*keywords: bowel pattern, intestine, diarrhea, irritable bowel disease, malabsorption
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