Change of Bowel Habit

People’s bowel habits can be vastly different from others.  However, if you experience dramatic changes in your normal bowel habits you need to investigate the causes for those changes.  Changes are often caused by simple problems (such as diarrhoea being caused by a tummy bug).  However, bowel changes may be an indication that something more serious is happening.  Sometimes changes in bowel habits can be the only clue to bowel cancer and therefore it is essential to investigate further.

Alternating bowel habit

If your bowel habit alternates between constipation and diarrhoea it is possible that you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
However there are other potential causes, with significant negative health outcomes, that do need to be excluded. If you have had a change in bowel habits then medical advice is recommended.


What if my Stool changes Colour?

Contact your doctor if your stool becomes;

  • Black, tar like
  • Clay coloured
  • Deep red
  • White

What if my Stool changes consistency?

Contact your doctor if your stool becomes;

  • Dry
  • Hard
  • Mucusy or if fluid that leaks out around the stool
  • Watery, loose
  • Very narrow

What if I have ongoing Diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea is often caused by a tummy bug and will stop after a few days.  If it persists however, an underlying problem may be at the root.  If your diarrhoea has come on suddenly and lasts more than a week, further investigation is essential.

What if I have ongoing Constipation?

Again, many people commonly suffer from constipation.  However a change in bowel habits, including constipation may point to another problem.

What if I have changes in how often I need to go?

Contact your doctor if you suddenly have:

  • More or less bowel movements.
  • Inability to control bowel movement.


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