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Change in Bowel Habits


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A change in bowel habits refers to a change in stool, meaning frequency, consistency, color, or how much control you have over when you move your bowels (incontinence).

Abnormal changes in the color of stool can include:

  • Black, tarry stools
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Deep red stools
  • White-colored stools

Changes in the consistency of stool can include:

  • Dry stools
  • Hard stools
  • Mucus or fluid that leaks out around the stool
  • Watery, loose stools (diarrhea)

Changes in bowel habits can be caused by a temporary infection, taking certain medications, or by a long-term (chronic) condition. Some chronic conditions that commonly cause changes in bowel habits include:


Physical Exam
Your GI doctor will do a complete physical exam and gather your health history to diagnose a change in your bowel habits.

Blood Tests
Your GI doctor will likely order blood tests to determine to cause of the changes in your bowel habits.

Your GI doctor may order a colonoscopy, which provides a close look at the inner lining of the colon to check for tumors, polyps, pouches, or areas of bleeding.

Imaging Tests
Your GI doctor may order imaging tests – such as a computerized tomography (CT) scan or an X-ray – to check for irregularities that may be causing the change in your bowel habits.


Lifestyle Modifications

If your changes in bowel habits are caused by constipation, your doctor will likely recommend you drink more water, exercise more frequently, go to the bathroom when you have the urge, and increase your fiber intake.

Treat the Underlying Condition
If the changes in your bowel habits are due to an infection, your GI doctor may treat the infection with antibiotic medication. If the changes in your bowel habits are due to a chronic condition – such as Crohn’s disease or diverticulosis – your GI doctor will help you manage that condition.

Why Choose UHealth?

A broad array of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Regardless of your age, condition, or whether you need long- or short-term digestive treatments, you will receive the most accurate diagnosis and most effective treatment to keep your stomach, digestive system, and organs healthy.

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