Contributed by: Rachana Arya
Having a bowel movement is one of the most basic biological activities, along with breathing and sleeping.
In fact, going to the bathroom is one of the healthiest things we can do for our bodies because it is a critical part of eliminating undigested food particles, bacteria, salts, and other substances from the body.
Variations in the colour of stool and consistency can offer valuable clues to what is going on in the body.
Experiencing significant changes in bowel habits or patterns could indicate abnormalities, which should be assessed by a healthcare professional, as it may indicate an underlying problem.
But does it deserve all of this attention?
What is and isn’t deemed “normal” when it comes to time spent in the restroom perplexes many individuals.
If you are worried about how frequently you poop, how long you spend in the restroom, and how you sit, you are not alone.
Many people wrongly believe that there is a right way to which we can flush our excrement.
However, there is no one-size-fits-all recommendation for normal bowel functioning.
Here are six different restroom experiences you might have, as well as what each one might signify for your health.
Spending long periods of time on the toilet
Spending long periods of time on the pot is a no-no. Remember, you might not be taking time for a good, old-fashioned “rest” in the restroom.
A healthy poop should be easy in one to two minutes. If you frequently have a lot of pushing/straining, pain, discomfort or the feeling that you need much longer, it is a great idea to speak with your provider about what might be causing it.
Prolonged periods of time on the toilet bowl, creates downward pressure in the rectum and anus.
This can contribute to the development of haemorrhoids and can weaken the pelvis muscles over time.
Pushing or straining
If you have to push or strain unreasonably hard to get the job done, or if you don’t feel totally finished after a long period of time, you may have constipation.
Constipation or incomplete bowel emptying can be caused by a variety of factors, the most prevalent of which are a lack of fibre in your diet, a lack of water, and a sedentary lifestyle.
Tackle constipation as a bathroom habit because it can develop into unpleasant illnesses such as haemorrhoids, which can cause bleeding and pain.
Try including grains, cereals, fruits, and vegetables in your diet, as well as the soluble fibre in the form of over-the-counter supplements like psyllium husk powder.
It is also advised to stay hydrated and to get the recommended 150 minutes of sleep per day.
Hard, pellet-like stools
Often constipation may be to blame if you observe stools that are hard and shaped like tiny rocks or pebbles.
If this is the case, it is recommended that you consult with your primary care physician to establish the underlying problem.
In most cases, hard, pellet-like faeces are merely due to dehydration or eating foods with too little fibre.
In other, more serious cases, constipation can also be caused by stress, hormonal changes, spinal injuries, muscular difficulties, malignancies, and other structural abnormalities affecting the digestive tract.
If your constipation is accompanied by dizziness, fatigue, cramping, or spasms, it is critical to see a doctor.
Frequent or loose bowel movements
When it comes to bowel motions, there is no set number of bowel movements a person should have.
Studies indicate that having a bowel movement happens at a different frequency for everyone.
Typically going to the bathroom up to three times a day is normal. However, if you realise you’re passing your bowels more frequently than usual or that they’re looser than usual, this could indicate a problem.
If you only have this bowel frequency when you eat certain foods, it could be due to dietary intolerance, such as lactose (dairy).
You can try to avoid dairy or other foods that you believe are causing your symptoms, but if your symptoms persist or you are unsure, consult your doctor.
Frequent changes in your bowel habits
If you notice frequent variations in your bowel movements, you may have irritable bowel syndrome, sometimes known as IBS.
This is commonly associated with symptoms of gas and bloating, as well as stomach pain that improve with a bowel movement.
If you are having these symptoms, you should see a doctor who can give an accurate diagnosis and treatment while ruling out other possible reasons.
Blood in the stool
If you discover blood in your stool, toilet bowl, or toilet paper after wiping, you should take it very seriously.
While it could be an indication of haemorrhoids, which are frequent and treatable, it could also be a sign of something more sinister going on in the colon or small bowel.
Anyone who has blood in their stool should speak with their provider about their symptoms, and in many situations, they should be sent to a gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy to discover the cause of the bleeding.
Here is the summation: Ideally, bowel motions should be soft, easy-to-push-out — roughly the consistency of toothpaste — not take much pushing, and not seem incomplete, as if you still had more to pass when you get up from the toilet.
Furthermore, any blood, mucus, or pain during a bowel movement, as well as very loose stools or failing to use the restroom on time, should be reported to a doctor.
Also, you should also frequently opt for stomach screening. It provides you with vital insights into your stomach, allowing you to take necessary measures to improve it.
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