Health & Wellness

Colorado Health & Wellness | Spring 2016

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Bowel movements are a natural and necessary body function to excrete waste. Yet, many people don't know much about them, and some are just too squeamish to discuss the topic. Below, local health professionals weigh in to help address common questions about healthy stools for adults and kids, as well as when to see the doctor. 48 Look Before You Flush What You See Can Reveal Important Health Clues by Andrea Juarez Frequency "People should get comfortable taking a peek in the toilet," says Dr. Luke Evans, a gastroenterologist with Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology who specializes in digestive disorders. "Your bowel movements are a signal of your gastrointestinal and overall health." As far as frequency, no set rule exists. "A person can have several stools a day to one every three days." Adults should consult their doctors when bowel patterns become more or less than that, uncomfortable, urgent or require them to strain or sit on the toilet for a long time. Healthy bowel movements shouldn't interfere with life or occur during the night. Many factors can affect stool frequency, such as diet, hydration, exercise, travel, stress, illness/surgery, medications, h o r m o n a l f l u c t u a t i o n s , s l e e p p a t t e r n s , pregnancy/childbirth, and more, Evans says. Denver urologist Dr. Nina Casanova of U r o l o g y A s s o c i a t e s e n c o u r a g e s h e r a d u l t and child patients to aim for a daily bowel movement since it's generally easier on the colon, bladder and pelvic floor. "The goal should be easily passable stool. If it's hard, clogs the toilet, is challenging to pass, or pellets, you likely need a better management program," says Casanova. MiChelle McGarry, a pediatric and urology nurse with the Pediatric Effective Elimination Program in Denver, says children should have a bowel movement six days a week. Otherwise they could develop "holding" and constipation problems since their pelvic floors are tighter than adults.

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