Your bowel habits are influenced by a variety of different factors, some of which you may not even realize. The number of bowel movements you have each day may vary, and everyone’s bowel habits are different. Normal bowel movements can range from 3 times a day to 4 times a week.
It is important to note any changes in your regular bowel habits. Most people have a “rhythm” or general bowel schedule. If you find yourself running to the bathroom more than usual, be aware.
In this article, we’ll review possible causes of frequent poop and when you should call your healthcare provider.
Changes in bowel habits can be caused by a variety of reasons, and it may not always be clear what the cause is. Looking at any changes in behavior can help you pinpoint the problem.
Changes in your diet can affect your bowel habits. Too much fiber can lead to more bowel movements, as well as very fatty foods.
When you exercise, your colon responds to the movement. Your bowel muscles contract to help with bowel movements.
Aerobic exercise like walking has also been found to increase healthy gut bacteria and help with regular bowel movements.
If you have been sedentary for a long time and then start exercising, you will usually start to see changes in your bowel habits.
Drinking alcohol can speed up the digestive process and increase colon contractions. This can lead to more frequent bowel movements. It also means your body can’t absorb fluids either, making your stools looser and more watery.
Coping and living well with IBS
Stress can cause constipation, frequent bowel movements, or diarrhea.
It can also alter gut physiology. There are neurons in the gut that communicate with the brain. Stress affects neurons in the gut, which is why so many people experience stomach pain, diarrhea, or the urge to poop when stressed.
Stress is also linked to changes in gut bacteria, which can affect bowel habits.
Hormones affect gastrointestinal (GI) function, and monthly fluctuations can cause different GI symptoms, including diarrhea and frequent bowel movements.
Diarrhea was defined as the passing of at least 3 loose and watery stools per day. It can be acute or chronic, and acute diarrhea is common.
Acute diarrhea lasts one to two days and gets better on its own, while chronic diarrhea lasts two to four weeks.
Diarrhea can be caused by infections, medications, food allergies or intolerances, surgery, or digestive tract problems, including:
- Viral infections: Norovirus, viral gastroenteritis (flu)
- Bacterial infections: Escherichia coli, Salmonella
- Parasitic Infection: Giardia
- Lactose intolerance
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- ulcerative colitis
- Sometimes abdominal surgery can cause diarrhea
- long-term use of certain medications that kill beneficial bacteria, such as antibiotics
Sometimes the medication can cause frequent bowel movements or even diarrhea. These drugs include:
- proton pump inhibitor
- Chemotherapy and other cancer drugs
If you suspect that your frequent bowel movements are the result of taking medication, call your prescribing healthcare provider. The dose may need to be adjusted or a different medication may be needed. If the drug is over-the-counter, ask your healthcare provider if it should continue to be taken.
Coping with Celiac Disease
Diseases and disorders associated with frequent bowel movements
Various diseases and conditions are associated with frequent bowel movements. If you’re having more poop than usual and you’re not sure why, your healthcare provider may do some tests to check for any potential causes.
irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms that occur at the same time. This is a functional gastrointestinal disorder, which means it has to do with how your brain and gut work together.
Symptoms include abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, diarrhea, constipation, or a combination of all three.
Prevalence of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS affects 250 to 45 million people in the United States.
Celiac disease is a chronic digestive and immune disorder. It is triggered by eating gluten and can damage the small intestine as well as other organs. Can cause diarrhea, constipation, loose stools, and foul-smelling stools.
In addition to examining and taking your medical and family history, a healthcare provider can diagnose celiac disease with blood tests and a small bowel biopsy during an endoscopy.
How many people have celiac disease?
Celiac disease affects at least 3 million Americans.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory gastrointestinal disease. This is a common disorder that can significantly impact quality of life.
While it can affect any part of the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus, it most commonly affects the beginning of the small and large intestines.
In addition to fatigue, fever, joint pain, and nausea, the symptom of Crohn’s disease is diarrhea.
How common is Crohn’s disease?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2015, 1.3 percent of U.S. adults (about 3 million) were diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC).
Practical tips for healthy living with Crohn’s disease
If you are diagnosed with a disorder that affects your bowel movements or habits, follow the treatment plan your healthcare provider has developed with you.
Dietary management is often part of the treatment of the above conditions.
If your frequent bowel movements are the result of lifestyle choices rather than an underlying medical condition, there are a number of things you can do to reduce your symptoms, including:
- Stay hydrated.
- Avoid foods that seem to trigger an upset stomach or loose stools. Sometimes bland foods may be best, like bananas, rice, toast, and applesauce.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages.
- Avoid dairy and spicy foods.
- Stop or minimize caffeine intake.
Stress can cause frequent bowel movements and exacerbate existing gastrointestinal disorders. Stress management learning tools can help you reduce the effects of stress on your mind and body. This may include yoga, meditation, relaxation techniques, and more.
The best diet for irritable bowel syndrome
Frequent bowel movements are not always preventable. But knowing what triggers your body can help you make choices that reduce the likelihood of having too many bowel movements.
Eating a healthy diet rich in fiber, minimizing processed foods, and staying hydrated can help regulate your gut. Being active through physical activity can also help regulate bowel habits.
When to see a healthcare provider
Talk to your healthcare provider if you notice a change in bowel habits and aren’t sure why. It may be helpful to keep a journal of your bowel habits and eating to share with them so they can learn more about what might be going on. If you find yourself in the bathroom a lot, or if it interferes with your daily life, see your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
If you’ve tried several things to help reduce the frequency of bowel movements to no avail, call your healthcare provider to make an appointment.
Find food sensitivities through elimination diets
Everyone’s poop habits are different. It is important to be aware of any changes in your bowel habits and discuss these changes with your healthcare provider. There are many things that can cause you to poop more, so don’t panic if you realize you’re spending a little more time in the bathroom than usual. Evaluating any lifestyle or dietary changes can help you figure out what’s going on. If you are still concerned about these changes, call your healthcare provider.
The best diet for irritable bowel syndrome
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Frequent bowel movements or changes in bowel habits can affect your life and, in some cases, impair your quality of life. Be sure to consult your healthcare provider if you do not know the reason for these changes. Finding out what’s behind frequent bowel movements can help you get appropriate treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the normal number of times you poop a day?
Normal can vary from person to person. People usually have a pattern that works for them. Typically, it can range from 3 times a day to 3 times a week. Some people may not poop every day.
Why am I pulling so much without eating a lot?
Some gastrointestinal disorders can cause frequent bowel movements, even if you don’t eat a lot. Even without gastrointestinal disease, what you eat has a lot to do with your stool. If you eat a high-fiber diet, you may have frequent bowel movements because of fiber, even if you don’t eat a lot.
Does a lot of poop mean your metabolism is high?
Maybe, but it really reflects the speed of your digestive system. Metabolism and digestion are two separate and distinct processes. Metabolism is how the body uses the energy it absorbs from digesting food; digestion is how the body breaks down and excretes food in the digestive tract.