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Red Flags for a Change in Bowel Habits

What are the most common changes in bowel habits?

Bowel habits can vary from person to person, day to day. However a sudden and noticeable change to your bowel habit can be suggestive of an underlying health issue – such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) or Bowel Cancer. Therefore, it is important to look our for a number of red flags, when it comes to your bowel movements. Red Flags to consider include the following:

  • abdominal cramps and pain
  • diarrhoea
  • constipation
  • bloating
  • bloody stools
  • fatigue
  • weight loss
person going to the toilet

What is Constipation?  

Constipation can happen for many reasons, such as when stool passes through the colon too slowly. The slower the food moves through the digestive tract, the more water the colon will absorb and the harder the faeces will become. A person who passes stool fewer than 3 times per week may have constipation. Sometimes, constipation results from a blockage in the large intestine. In this case, a person will need urgent medical attention. At other times, it may simply be due to a lack of fibre or water.

The main symptoms of constipation are:

  • difficulty passing stool
  • straining when passing stool
  • passing less stool than usual
  • lumpy, dry, or hard stoole

Other symptoms include:

  • pain and cramping in the abdomen
  • feeling bloated
  • nausea
  • a loss of appetite