Let’s get down and dirty with bowel talk. In the JCN clinic talking about bowel movements, wind, burping and just about all gut symptoms is second nature. However for many of you out there it’s not a topic talked about so often, so how does that help you know what is ‘normal’? Perhaps you also think just because your friends suffer with digestive issues that this makes digestive ailments like being bloated and gasey ‘normal’. Guess what? It's not!
The largest percentage of our clients at the JCN clinic come to us with digestive issues. Below are the top eleven most common signs and symptoms that we see that are NOT okay and require further investigation and treatment:
infrequent bowel movements – if you are skipping days between bowel movements this is a sign of a sluggish digestive system. Ideally we should have a bowel movement every day, often around the same time of the day. You may even go twice a day. When you have infrequent bowel movements, for example you go every 2 -3 days, then you are not eliminating waste regularly enough. This can lead to bloating, skin breakouts, headaches and smelly gas.
overly frequent bowel movements – this is the flip side of the coin. Daily or twice daily is great, but if you are going up to 4 – 6 times a day, particularly with urgency and looseness, or with a feeling of never feeling like you got it all out (see incomplete bowel movements) then this is also not right. This means that your intestinal tract is upset and trying to eliminate something with more urgency.
incomplete evacuation (aka feeling like you haven’t got it all out) – if you are spending a few times a day on the toilet trying to go, but not feeling relief then again this is not a good bowel habit. This is a sign of intestinal aggravation and your digestive system struggling between being sluggish and constipated and also trying to expel contents it is not happy with.
loose bowels – if your bowel movements are loose, as in sloppy, diarrhoea, water and/or explosive then your digestive system is sending you a strong message. It is either not happy with what is going into it or trying to expel the contents quickly and/or you may have a strong bacterial/yeast overgrowth or a parasite. Stress can also cause loose bowels, yet I often see that the stress exacerbates an underlying issue more so.
blood and/or mucus in your bowel movements – a little blood from a small tear around the rectum is not a major concern, but a lot of blood or blood in the stool itself needs to be investigated. Similarly, mucus in the stools is sign of strong inflammation and is often linked with food intolerances and chronic intestinal inflammation.
excessive wind – so we all get a bit windy on and off, and a little bit of flatulence through the day is normal. However, if you have a build up of wind that creates stomach pains and just keeps building up and needs to be expelled constantly, then again this is a issue of digestive unease. Excessive wind is often due to gut bacterial imbalance, food reactivity’s and general gut inflammation.
ongoing belching – again, we all have a good old burp ever now and then. Yet if you have a tendency to burp constantly then this is a sign of upper digestive discomfort. Excessive belching is often due to food reactivates, stomach acid issues which may also be an overflow from lower digestive complaints.
bloating – we all can feel a little bloated occasionally, especially woman at around the time of our period. However, you should not feel like your belly is distended to the point that you look pregnant. You should also not get a build up of bloating through the day to the point of a strong abdominal distension. Strong bloating is a sign of gut bacterial imbalance, yeast overgrowth and food intolerances. It is also very common with the above bowel symptoms.
a super noisy gut – when our digestive system is unhappy it likes to make a bit of noise and let us know. Not everyone experiences this, but it is common. If you find that your belly is constantly rumbling, gurgling and almost feeling like it is ‘popping’ with air pockets then your gut is not happy. This type of intestinal noise is usually associated with food intolerance and an imbalanced gut bacterial environment.
pain & cramping – it is not normal to experience pain and cramping in your abdomen or stomach area. Whether that pain be a short stabbing pain or an ongoing ache, pain is telling you something is not okay. Pain is often due to inflammation or sometimes functional issues, so its vital to get this checked out.
reflux and indigestion – that burning sensation you get in your stomach (that’s just below the centre of your ribs) can sometimes be bought on by stress, but more commonly is due to food reactivity’s or low stomach pH due to ongoing gut inflammation. Occasionally this may be a structural issue with the oesophagus, but this is less common than the aforementioned.
If you feel like some of the above resonate with you, please know that these are some of the most common symptoms we see at the JCN clinic. When given the correct and appropriate treatment by a trained professional your digestive issues can be resolved. What do we mean by resolved? We mean a well formed stool, passed once to twice daily with ease, no blood/mucus, with no excessive bloating, pain, burping, wind and/or indigestion. Sounds good doesn’t it!
Contact us at the JCN Clinic for any further help or queries you may have about your digestive health.