How to Empty Your Bowels Without Straining
How to Manage Frequent Bowel Movements When You Have Crohn’s Disease
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Frequent bowel movements can be one of the most challenging symptoms of Crohn’s disease. But understanding why they happen — and learning how to be fully prepared for emergencies — can help you gain some control over this unpredictable condition.
“Frequent bowel movements can be a sign of active ongoing inflammation,” says Kim Isaacs, MD, PhD, a gastroenterologist and professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina Multidisciplinary Center for IBD Research and Treatment in Chapel Hill. But there are several other possible causes, including a gut infection or difficulty processing bile after certain types of bowel resection surgeries.
What to Do When You’re Having Frequent Bowel Movements
If you're having bowel movements more often than usual (or frequently for more than two or three days), call your doctor, Dr. Isaacs says. You might need to be tested for infection or change your medications.
It’s also important to have your own personal plan of action for managing the frequent bowel movements of Crohn’s disease. This can also help reduce stress — a potential trigger of Crohn’s disease flares. Consider these strategies:
- Try an over-the-counter antidiarrheal medication.“This can help with diarrhea and tighten up the sphincter,” Isaacs says. However, it won’t treat an infection if that’s the cause of your symptoms. That’s why you need to see your doctor if you continue to have loose stools.
- Skip the caffeine.“Caffeine-containing products can increase bowel movements,” Isaacs says. And it’s not just in coffee: Caffeine is found in many foods, from chocolate to soda.
- Cut down on sugar.Cutting out high-sugar foods — like sweets, cereal bars, and sugary sodas — may help decrease diarrhea and cramping, Isaacs says.
- Drink water.If you’re experiencing diarrhea, it’s important to stay hydrated. (Just avoid sugary or caffeinated drinks like certain sweet teas and sports drinks.)
- Stick to your Crohn’s-friendly diet.People with Crohn’s disease should keep a food journal to learn which foods aggravate their symptoms or cause trouble during a flare. But that doesn’t mean that your diet has to be bland, Isaacs says. Experiment with the foods you can eat to find tasty dishes that appeal to you.
- Carry a "Can’t Wait" card.Members of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America can apply for the “I Can’t Wait” card, which helps explain your condition to others. Some states also have restroom-access laws that give priority to people with conditions like Crohn’s disease.
- Map out bathrooms.When you're away from home or the office, be sure to note where the restrooms are before you need them. Airports and sports arenas have location maps available online, and there are toilet-finder apps you can download to your smartphone.
- Pack for emergencies.Being prepared for unexpected bowel movements can help put your mind at ease. Keep wet wipes, spare underwear, clothes, slip-on shoes, and a plastic bag for soiled items within reach.
- Use ointment.Frequent bowel movements can result in irritation and even infection of the skin around the anus. Consider using a salve, such as petroleum jelly, to protect your skin.
- Ease into a warm bath.A soak in the tub can soothe aggravated tissues. Since bubble baths or scented products can irritate your skin, opt for an oatmeal bath instead. Gently pat dry and moisturize the area after your soak.
- Make time for rest.Although physical activity is a good idea for everyone, being physically active can also aggravate frequent bowel movements. When possible, take opportunities to sit and rest.
- Consider talk therapy.If your bowel movements is causing you stress, talk it out with a professional. Lowering your stress levels might help you gain more control over your symptoms.
Video: How can I stop frequent bowel movements ? | Best Health Channel
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