Variations In Bowel Movements

What Causes Bowel Movement Changes?

Bowel movement changes can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'worrying' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose bowel movement changes, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "bowel movement changes" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Aspartame/Neotame Side-Effects
  • Diverticular Disease
  • Food Allergies
  • Stress
  • Gluten Sensitivity
  • Poor Small Intestine Health
  • Increased Intestinal Permeability
  • Colon Cancer

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
history of middle ear infection
occasional unexplained vomiting
broad-spectrum antibiotic use
eyelid twitch
very angry/hostile disposition
regular episodes of diarrhea
poor mental clarity
occasional unexplained nausea
refined white flour consumption
elevated B12 levels
trace amounts of occult blood
occasional grilled meat consumption
... and more than 140 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of bowel movement changes:
Cause Probability Status
Stress 90% Confirm
Gluten Sensitivity 25% Unlikely
Diverticular Disease 21% Unlikely
Food Allergies 4% Ruled out
Aspartame/Neotame Side-Effects 3% Ruled out
Poor Small Intestine Health 2% Ruled out
Increased Intestinal Permeability 0% Ruled out
Colon Cancer 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate irregular stools, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Do you suffer from significant variation in bowel movements? This would include alternating constipation and diarrhea, or changes in pattern.
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ No / just the occasional diarrhea or constipation
→ Yes, it changes several times a year
→ Yes, it changes several times a month
→ Yes, it is always changing, daily or almost daily
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate no unusual bowel movement variation, occasional bowel movement changes, frequent bowel movement changes or constant bowel movement changes, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Colon Cancer

In general, you should see a specialist if you are over 40 and have the following symptoms:

  • A change in normal bowel habits towards looser and/or more frequent stools that has lasted for over 6 weeks
  • Any bleeding from the rectum.
Effects of a Low Carbohydrate Diet

In a study funded by Dr. Atkins himself, 70% of the people that could stick with the diet lost the ability to have a normal bowel movement.  The May 2004 Annals of Internal Medicine study showed that most of the Atkins Dieters had significantly more diarrhea, general weakness, rashes and muscle cramps.

Fecal Impaction

Chronic constipation followed by watery diarrhea that suddenly leaks out is a sign of fecal impaction.

IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

IBS causes variations in the amount of time that stool remains in the intestines, thus changing its water content and giving it a consistency ranging from loose and watery to hard and dry.  About 20% of patients with IBS experience alternating periods of diarrhea and constipation.

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