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Identifying Healthy Bowel Movements and Knowing When to Contact a Gastroenterologist

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Your bowel movements are great indicators of your overall health. You may prefer to leave what happens in the bathroom in the bathroom, but there are times when you need to discuss those activities with a medical professional. That means a visit to a gastroenterologist who understands fully the importance of healthy bowel movements. 

Your bowel movements are often the first sign of dysfunction, illness, or disease within the digestive system. The digestive system is connected to every other system in your body, so changes in bowel movements are often early signs of many other health problems. 

Learning how to determine the health of your bowel movements can help you maintain your health over time. Use the following information to understand what healthy bowel movements look like and when you should schedule that gastroenterology appointment. 

Signs of Healthy Bowel Movements

Healthy bowel movements occur daily or at least three to four times a week. They come out smooth and easy but aren’t too loose or runny. The following characteristics are, in general, signs of healthy bowel movements that present no concern: 

  • Formed, solid pieces 
  • Soft and smooth 
  • Shades of brown 

How are Unhealthy Bowel Movements Different?

Unhealthy bowel movements are variations from those three characteristics of healthy bowel movements. If you see any of the following on a routine basis, there is potentially cause for concern: 

  • Hard stools 
  • Red streaks 
  • Dark coloring, especially black 
  • Light coloring like yellow or white
  • Green coloring
  • Unformed or liquid output
  • Stools that appear greasy
  • Stools that float or look like floating grease
  • Pain during bowel movements 
  • Bleeding during bowel movements

If you’re having four or more bowel movements a day or struggle to have even two or three a week, you should consider them abnormal even if they look healthy. 

When to Consult Your Gastroenterologist

Everyone experiences occasional diarrhea, constipation, and uncomfortable or painful gas. When those issues become the norm and aren’t attributable to eating certain foods, you should schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist. 

When your bowel movements are suddenly different or seem to change gradually over time, there is potentially a serious medical issue causing the change. The faster you identify and treat the problem, the more you can protect your health from serious complications or diseases. 

If you’re concerned about your digestive health or bowel movements, it’s time to contact the Beverly Hills Center for Digestive Health. We can determine if your bowel movements are concerning and help you diagnose the cause of any discomfort in the bathroom. Let’s work together to protect your health.

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