If you’re dealing with digestive issues, it sometimes can seem that you’re walking a tightrope between not enough bowel regularity and movements that are too frequent. If you’re experiencing the uncomfortable feeling of constipation, you can take medications or supplement your diet with fiber and specific lifestyle changes to encourage bowel movements.

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 your gastroenterologist. If your symptoms occur in conjunction with other symptoms, this could be a much more severe condition than you may realize. Call Gastroenterology in New York to consult your doctor.

You may control your symptoms with over-the-counter medications, but this form of treatment is rarely a long-term healthy solution. A gastroenterologist should exam you, asking the right questions, to make a qualified diagnosis. Only then can effective treatment begin.

How Regular Is Regular?

Each 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 may not be normal for someone else. It’s usually obvious when you have more than the normal number of bowel movements in a day. It can be more challenging to notice constipation. Still, it should become evident if it goes on long enough, especially with the other uncomfortable symptoms accompanying constipation, such as stomach cramps, incontinence, and hemorrhoids.

Everyone experiences short-term constipation. However, if you have fewer than three bowel movements a week, this could be a sign of a severe condition. 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. 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 of days.

Updated on Aug 27, 2022 by Dr. Shawn Khodadadian (Gastroenterologist) of Manhattan Gastroenterology