There's not a generally accepted clinical definition for frequent bowel movements. Most people consider several bowel movements a day to at least be unusual, particularly if this pattern is a change from what's normal.
If the only change from your usual bowel pattern is the frequency of your bowel movements, an illness is unlikely to be the cause. In the absence of loose, watery stools, abdominal cramping or bloody stool (diarrhea), frequent bowel movements are usually related to your lifestyle.
See your doctor if more-frequent bowel movements are also 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, ribbon-like stools or loose, watery stools
- Abdominal pain
- Blood, mucus or pus in your feces
Jan. 13, 2018
- Wilkinson John (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 9, 2017.
- Cooper DN, et al. The effects of moderate whole grain consumption on fasting glucose and lipids, gastrointestinal symptoms, and microbiota. Nutrients. 2017; 9:173.
- Evaluation of the GI patient. The Merck Manual Professional Edition. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal_disorders/approach_to_the_gi_patient/evaluation_of_the_gi_patient.html?qt=frequent bowel movement&alt=sh. Accessed Nov. 9, 2017.
- Celiac disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Understanding celiac disease. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/celiac-disease.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/ibd/what-is-IBD.htm. Accessed Nov. 15, 2017.
- Hyperthyroidism (Overactive thyroid). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/hyperthyroidism. Accessed Nov. 15, 2017.
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