How often should I open my bowels?
Everyone is different- some people move their bowels two to three times per day, other every 2-3 days. Constipation is where you open your bowels less often than you usually do.Bowel irregularity or change in pattern can be uncomfortable and is sometimes a sign of a more serious underlying problem, so you should see your doctor if this is happening.
What causes constipation?
Constipation, where your stools are harder than normal or you go less frequently, can be caused by a variety of conditions:
- Lack of exercise
- Dietary issues (not enough fibre, too much dairy, lack of water)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Neurological disorders
- Living a sedentary lifestyle (not exercising)
- Laxatives or antacid medications
- Thyroid problems (underactive thyroid)
- Stress or anxiety
- Medications (particularly antidepressants)
- Bowel cancer
When is constipation a concern?
Chronic constipation isn’t always a major concern, particularly if dietary changes help fix your bowel movement.
But acute or sudden constipation can sometimes be a major concern as it may indicate an underlying problem. In many cases, this is dietary, but is sometimes a more serious sign, for example a tumour.
When should I see a specialist without delay?
If you are seeing fresh or old blood in your stools, have severe abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting, or are losing weight unexpectedly, you should make an appointment with one of our specialists immediately.