Everyone’s bowel is unique to them and though bowel inconsistencies are a part and parcel for our everyday lives, they tend to get more common and severe as we age. In fact, fecal inconsistence affects more than 17 million people in the US alone. It is considered as the second leading cause for people to opt for assisted living or long-term care facilities.
Though common and frequent, fecal inconsistence is a chronic, stressful and limiting disorder that lays a major impact on our social and emotional well-being. However, good news is that bowel inconsistency is a treatable and manageable condition that can be cured through right dietary tips, some simple lifestyle modifications, and expert medicinal support.
What is a Normal Bowel Movement?
The food we eat gets digested in the mouth and stomach and reaches our bowel. There, after the absorption of water and salts by the body, the undigested food becomes more solid and exists our body through a regulated bowel movement.
A normal bowel movement differs from person to person and is anywhere from one to three times a day to at least three times a week. However, the fecal consistency should neither be too hard or too loose. If your stools are too hard and dry, you can be constipated, while if your stools are too loose, you can have diarrhea.
Signs & Symptoms of Abnormal Bowel Movement
There a multiple signs and symptoms that can help you realize issues with your normal bowel movement. These include:
- Abnormal changes in the color of your stool: Black, tarry stools, deep red stools, clay-colored stools, or white-colored stools
- Changes in the consistency of stool: Dry stools, loose watery stools, or mucus filled stools
- Changes in the frequency of bowel movement: More than three times a day or less than thrice a week
- Abdominal pains or cramps during the bowel movement
Factors that Lead to Changes in Healthy Bowel Movement
Both constipation and fecal incontinence (the involuntary/ accidental leakage of urine or stool or a complete loss of bowel control) are common bowel dysfunctions that occur due to:
- Advancing age
- Changes in the diet
- Changes in the routine during traveling
- An underlying infection or medical condition
- Inadequate intake of fluids
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Lack of dietary fibers
- Nerve or muscle damage
- Menopause and hormone therapy
- Rectal inelasticity
- Chronic laxative abuse
Management and Treatment of Abnormal Bowel Movements
Bowel inconsistency does not have to be a part of natural aging, and there are a number of lifestyle changes and therapies that you can adopt to keep your bowel healthy and functioning at its best. So whether you are young or old, here are some effective ways to ensure a healthy bowel movement:
Improve on Your Diet
The food that we eat puts a major impact on the health of our digestive system and our regular bowel movements. Eating fewer fibrous foods like cheese, meat, processed food, ice creams, caffeinated drinks, and sodas lead to constipation. In order to keep your bowel healthy, you need to incorporate fiber-rich foods in your diet. So strive to get at least 20 to 35 grams of fiber every day through beans, fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and steer away from non-fibrous foods that load you up with only give empty calories.
Keep a Tab on Your Water Intake
Increasing your water intake can help soften your stools and stimulate bowel movements. Water, in fact, is an excellent way to relieve constipation. So try to drink at least eight to ten glasses of water every day. You may also consider adding lemon juice to your water to maximize its benefits.
PS. Drinking a mixture of lemon and water has been found to be beneficial in relieving constipation in many people.
Practice Pelvic Floor Exercises
Kegel exercises help in strengthening the muscles of the anus. For this, contract your pelvic, buttocks, and anal muscles and hold them for a slow count of five. Practice a series of 30 of these Kegel exercises three times a day to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and resolve incontinence.
Maximize Your Movement
Exercising has been found to be really effective in improving the functioning of your bowel. Walking, swimming, jogging, and running are all good ways to strengthen your bowel and regulate its functioning. Even a short amount of physical activity can do wonders in improving your bowel health.
Limit Your Stress
Stress and anxiety cause the large intestine to spasm – leading to constipation and diarrhea. To ensure healthy bowel movements, try to stay as much stress-free as possible. Stress-reducing techniques like yoga and meditation also prove out to be highly beneficial.
Stay Away from Laxatives
Improper and long-term use of laxatives can worsen your symptoms of constipation. So try to avoid them as much as possible and even if you have to use them, take them as directed by your primary physician.
Seek Help from Your Healthcare Provider
Medications can help you achieve a more predictable bowel pattern. So, if you are suffering from diarrhea and/ or constipation, talk to your doctor. He can treat your condition through the right medicinal support.
At EPIC Health, we provide comprehensive support to keep your bowel healthy and regulate its movement. Our expert physicians and healthcare experts carefully evaluate your condition to score out the underlying causes of bowel inconsistencies and then treat your condition through right medication, diet and exercise therapy. We can also you adopt healthy lifestyle practices that can help you prevent diarrhea and constipation without the need of medicines.