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What is Normal Regularity?

photo of woman holding her stomach | GI NorthOne of the most challenging topics to discuss is bowel movements, even with your doctor. However, changes in bowel movements can be a sign of health issues. But before you start worrying, it is important to define normal regularity. Since regularity is unique to every individual, there are many variables to consider. In fact, what is normal for one person may not be normal for another.

Even the color of your stools is an indicator of your health. According to WebMD, a drastic change in color can be a red flag. For instance, black stools can mean that you are bleeding internally, which can indicate cancer or ulcers. Black stools are also common with certain medications or vitamins such as iron. Although rare, light colored stools such as grey clay can mean liver disease or a block in the bile flow.

The Bowel Movement Process

The bowels are the lower parts of your digestive tract. Digestion starts in your mouth then the stomach and ends in the bowels. When food reaches the bowels, the remaining salts and water are absorbed. This digested food then coverts to a more solid material and exits as bowel movements. According to many specialists, normal bowel movements consist of formed brown stools that are not too loose or hard.

Hard and dry stools are an indicator of constipation. Symptoms of constipation include hard and dry stools that are painful or difficult to pass. Not having a bowel movement for more than three days is also a common symptom of constipation. Symptoms of diarrhea include loose or watery stools.

Size, Shape and Color of Bowel Movements

By and large, bowel movements should be soft and easy to pass. But some people have softer or harder stools than others. Also, stools should be a golden brown or brown in color. They should be formed and have a shape similar to a sausage. However, there is no cause for concern if your stools vary a bit. Though, it is advisable to talk to s specialist if your stools change suddenly.


Constipation is a very common problem. In fact, it is estimated that 2.5 million people visit a specialist every year complaining of constipation. People who are most affected are children, women and those 65 and older.

Common symptoms are dry, hard, lumpy stools that are painful or difficult to pass. Constipation can also be accompanied by bloating and discomfort. There are many things that can cause constipations such as low dietary fiber, not enough exercise and dehydration. For good overall health and regularity, it is recommended that you exercise 30 minutes a day, eat plenty of fiber and keep hydrated.


Diarrhea is defined as loose and watery stools that occur more than 3 times a day. It lasts about one to three days and generally does not require treatment. Diarrhea can be caused by numerous factors such as food allergy or intolerance, infection, common flu or side effects of medication. It is best to seek treatment if your diarrhea is accompanied by dehydration, fever, severe pain, has a black color, contains blood or lasts more than three days.

Change in Bowel Movements

Normal regularity varies for each person in consistency and frequency. However, there are many indications of an abnormal bowel movement, which can be a sign of a more serious condition. It is especially important to see a specialist if you are 50 years of age or older because the risk of digestive disease is higher.

Schedule an appointment with a qualified specialist if you feel that you do not have normal regularity. It is always best to be on the safe side. The professional expertise at GI North offers advanced knowledge and individualized care in gastroenterology and treating diseases of the digestive system. Dr. Quijano and Dr. Cofrancesco at GI North service the metro Atlanta communities including Suwanee, Milton, John’s Creek, Duluth, Dawsonville, Dahlonega and Alpharetta. In addition, you can request an appointment with Dr. Quijano if you prefer a Spanish speaking physician.

© 2016 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

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