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Change in Bowel Habits

A change in bowel habits (the working of gut) can be a symptom of bowel cancer and hence should always be taken seriously. If you find your bowel habits have changed for a period of three weeks or more, you should consult your GP.

Bowel habits can vary considerably between different people so what may be perfectly normal for one person, may be unusual for another.

The important thing is to know what is normal for you so that you can be aware of any change in your own bowel habits.

Many things can cause a change in bowel habits including medication and diet so changes lasting a few days or even a couple of weeks are quite common.

Changes in bowel habits to note

There are a number of ways in which your bowel habits may change, and these include:

  1. The number of times a day you pass a stool (poo)
  2. A change in consistency of the stool. Is it looser (diarrhoea), harder or drier (constipation) than normal?
  3. Feeling like you haven’t emptied your bowel properly even after passing a stool
  4. An urgency to pass a stool or having to strain to go
  5. A narrowness of the stool

It is important that you know what is normal for you so that you can explain to your GP how your bowel habits have changed.

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