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Frequent bowel movements

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Nov 4, 2022.

Definition

Frequent bowel movements happen when you have more bowel movements than what's typical for you. There's no set number that defines frequent bowel movements. You may consider several a day to be unusual, especially if it's a change from what you usually experience. Frequent bowel movements without other symptoms might be caused by your lifestyle, such as eating more fiber. Symptoms such as watery stools and belly cramps might signal a problem.

Causes

If you're having bowel movements more often, chances are you've made some change in your lifestyle. For example, you may be eating more whole grains, which increases fiber intake.

More-frequent bowel movements also could be related to a mild illness that will take care of itself. If there are no other symptoms, you're probably in good health.

Diseases and other conditions that may cause frequent bowel movements and other symptoms include:

  • Salmonella infection (or other infections that may occur from bacteria)
  • Rotavirus
  • Giardia infection (giardiasis) (or other infections causes by parasites)
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn's disease
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Antibiotic-associated diarrhea (or other medication side effects)
  • Ulcerative colitis (a type of inflammatory bowel disease)

When to see a doctor

See your health care provider if more-frequent bowel movements also are accompanied by any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Changes in the consistency, volume or appearance of your bowel movements, such as repeatedly passing narrow, ribbonlike stools or loose, watery stools
  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood or mucus in your feces

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