Irritable Bowel Movements Overview
There’s not a generally accepted clinical definition for frequent bowel movements. Most people consider several bowel movements a day to at least be unusual, particularly if this pattern is a change from what’s normal.
However, if nothing else about your bowel movements is different no loose, watery stools, abdominal cramping or bloody stool the change is probably not a sign of any illness.
What Are the Symptoms of IBS?
Among the symptoms associated with IBS are:
- Diarrhea (often described as violent episodes of diarrhea).
- Constipation alternating with diarrhea.
- Abdominal pains or cramps, usually in the lower half of the abdomen that are aggravated by meals and relieved by having a bowel movement. Often the person has more frequent bowel movements when they have pain and the stools are looser.
- Excess gas or bloating.
- Harder or looser stools than normal (rabbit like pellets or flat ribbon stools).
- Visible abdominal distension.
Some people with IBS have other symptoms not related to their digestive tract, such as urinary symptoms or sexual problems.
Symptoms of IBS tend to worsen with stress.
People with IBS have traditionally been described as having “constipation-predominant,” “diarrhea-predominant,” or an alternating pattern of constipation and diarrhea. Each type represents about a third of the overall IBS population.
Causes of Irritable Bowel Movements
If you’re having bowel movements more often than usual, chances are you’ve made some change in your lifestyle. You may, for example, be:
- Eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which increases fiber intake
- Getting regular exercise or increasing your exercise
- Drinking more water
More-frequent bowel movements could also be related to a mild, self-limiting illness that will take care of itself. If there are no other signs or symptoms, you’re probably in good health.