The EclecticPhysician

The Eclectic Physician
Q&A Archive
By Dr. Beth Burch

Irregular bowel movements, constipation and bloating.


I have irregular bowel movements at various times of the day, and sometimes no movement at all. This causes me to feel bloated throughout the day and sometimes results in slight cramping pain. Is there anything that can encourage my body to have a bowel movement each morning? I always feel better when this happens, though it rarely does.


Your first step is a visit to your doctor to have the bowel problem diagnosed. There are many conditions that can cause irregular bowel movements, constipation and bloating, and since these symptoms sometimes indicate a serious problem like cancer, it is important to get proper diagnosis and treatment.

Once serious conditions are ruled out, you can work with a program to normalize your bowel function. Besides disease conditions that cause irregular bowel movements and constipation, other causes are a low fiber diet, low fluid intake, physical inactivity and many medications. Your doctor or pharmacist can determine if medications are a contributing factor and recommend other choices. The following steps will help to promote normal bowel movements:

1. Eat a high fiber diet including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Avoid refined and processed foods that contribute to constipation.

2. Take a water soluble fiber supplement such as psillium seed or pectin to assist with promoting normal bowel function.

3. Drink 6-8 glasses of water per day to provide the necessary fluid requirement for good bowel function.

4. Get regular exercise to encourage bowel peristalsis (movement).

5. Establish a regular time of day to sit on the toilet. After breakfast or exercise is the best time. Going at the same time each day, even if you don't have a strong urge to defecate will train your bowel to be regular. Some people find a glass of warm water with some lemon ju ice first thing in the morning stimulates peristalsis.

6. Don't repress an urge to defecate. Not going to the bathroom when you need to will encourage constipation and bowel irregularity.

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* The information presented in this web site is intended to inform and educate. It is not intended replace a qualified medical practitioner to diagnose or treat medical conditions.

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