Regularity: Just Enough of a Good Thing?
If you’re dealing with digestive issues, it sometimes can seem that you’re walking a tightrope between not enough bowel regularity and too much regularity. If you’re experiencing the uncomfortable feeling of constipation, you can take medication or supplement your diet with fiber to encourage bowel movements. If you treat it too aggressively, though, you might end up with diarrhea.
Where and how do you draw the line? What’s “normal” in terms of regularity anyway?
Consult Your Doctor
First of all, if you think you’re ill — if you are suffering from constipation or diarrhea — you should schedule an appointment with the Upper East Side, NYC, gastroenterologist: Dr. Shawn Khodadadian. If your symptoms are happening in conjunction with other symptoms, they can point to a more serious condition than you may realize.
You may control your symptoms with over-the-counter medications, but this form of treatment rarely buys you more than time. A gastroenterologist can exam you, asking the right questions, to make a qualified diagnosis. Only then can effective treatment begin.
Constipation can include painful bowel movement or the feeling that you just can’t expel everything no matter how hard you try. A New York City gastroenterologist can treat constipation by:
- Prescribing laxatives, lubricants, and/or stool softeners
- Prescribing other medications that encourage your digestive system to move food along
- Recommending that you increase the fiber in your diet, sometimes to a specific threshold
- Urging you to exercise more frequently, as often as a half-hour a day in some cases
- Performing surgery in extreme cases only
You can try some over-the-counter remedies for diarrhea, but if you’ve been suffering from diarrhea that has persisted for longer than two or three days, you should seek medical help. Dr. Khodadadian can help by:
- Replacing the fluid you lost, orally or intravenously, while restoring your electrolyte balance
- Discovering if your diarrhea is caused by your medications and changing them
- Changing your diet, including eliminating dairy until your symptoms have abated
- Putting you on antibiotics
- Resolving the underlying medical problem, such as inflammatory bowel disease
How Regular Is Regularity?
Every body has different needs, depending on diet, age, ethnicity, and history. For some people, one bowel movement a day is normal. For others, the number approaches three. Whatever is normal for you is normal. It’s usually obvious when you’re having more than the normal number of bowel movements in a day. It can be more challenging to notice constipation, but if it goes on long enough, it should become evident, especially with the other uncomfortable symptoms that accompany constipation, such as stomach cramps, incontinence and hemorrhoids.
Everyone experiences short-term constipation, and it’s not a serious problem. If you have fewer than three bowel movements a week, however, you have to admit that you’re constipated. If the condition lasts longer than a week, seek medical help. Long-term constipation is not healthy.
On the other end of the spectrum is diarrhea. It’s never a pleasant experience, with its urgency and gas. If not treated, it can dehydrate you. If you are suffering from diarrhea, drink plenty of fluids and seek medical attention if it lasts longer than a couple days.
Dr. Shawn Khodadadian, a best in class board certified Upper East Side NYC gastroenterologist (GI doctor). He is a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions of the gastrointestinal tract, liver, pancreas and gall bladder.
Dr. Shawn Khodadadian
983 Park Ave, Ste 1D
New York, NY 10028