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Frequent bowel movements Assessment Questionnaire

Questions Your Doctor May Ask - and Why!

During a consultation, your doctor will use various techniques to assess the symptom: Frequent bowel movements. These will include a physical examination and possibly diagnostic tests. (Note: A physical exam is always done, diagnostic tests may or may not be performed depending on the suspected condition) Your doctor will ask several questions when assessing your condition. It is important to openly share any pertinent information to help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

It is also very important to bring an up-to-date list of all of your all medical conditions, medications including dosages, and names of numbers of any specialist you see.

Create your printable checklist by answering questions that your doctor may ask below:

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  1. How long have you had frequent bowel movements?

    Why: to determine if acute or chronic. Frequent bowel movements which is acute (without blood) is more likely to be infectious in nature e.g. staphylococcal toxin food poisoning, giardiasis, traveler's diarrhea, a virus or contaminated food. Frequent bowel movements that are chronic has a large number of causes.

  2. How frequent are the stools?

    Why: abnormally frequent bowel movements is generally accepted to be more than 3 per day.

  3. What is the consistency of the stools?

    Why: e.g. loose and watery.

  4. What is the volume of the stools?

    Why: e.g. high volume stools may be suggestive of infection (such as E.Coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Vibrio Cholerae), carcinoid syndrome, bowel polyp, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, magnesium antacids, lactose intolerance or after gastric surgery; small volume stools may suggest inflammatory bowel disease or colon cancer.

  5. What is the nature of the stools?

    Why: e.g. fatty, pale colored, extremely smelly stools that float in the toilet and are difficult to flush away is called steatorrhea due to excess fat in the stool and are characteristic of malabsorption of nutrients which may be due to celiac disease, chronic pancreatitis, previous gastrectomy and cystic fibrosis.

  6. Does the frequent bowel movements persist on fasting?

    Why: may suggest an infection (such as E.Coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Vibrio cholerae), vasoactive intestinal polypeptide secreting tumor, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, carcinoid syndrome and villous bowel polyp.

  7. If frequent bowel movements are acute, where did you eat in the 24 hours before they started and what food have you eaten during this time?

    Why: may help in discovering the source of possible food poisoning.

  8. Have any other family members experienced frequent bowel movements also?

    Why: may suggest toxic staphylococcal gastroenteritis, Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter pylori.

  9. Has there been recent foreign travel?

    Why: may suggest traveler's diarrhea, cholera, shigellosis, salmonellosis and giardiasis.

  10. Medications?

    Why: e.g. recent antibiotics may predispose to pseudomembranous colitis; medications that can cause frequent bowel movements include digitalis, diuretics, beta-blockers, aspirin, colchicines, other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications; overuse of laxatives may also cause diarrhea.

  11. Alcohol history?

    Why: it is well known that alcohol can cause diarrhea.

  12. Blood in the stool?

    Why: If frequent bowel movements is acute, may suggest Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter jejuni, ulcerative colitis and amebic dysentery. If frequent bowel movements is chronic, may suggest ulcerative colitis, bowel cancer, diverticulitis, amoebiasis, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.

  13. Mucous in stool?

    Why: suggests ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease and irritable bowel syndrome.

  14. Fever?

    Why: may suggest Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter jejuni and ulcerative colitis, severe amoebic dysentery or pseudomembranous colitis. May get a low grade temperature with traveler's diarrhea and toxic staphylococcal gastroenteritis.

  15. Severe vomiting?

    Why: may suggest toxic staphylococcal gastroenteritis (which follows 2-4 hours after eating food poisoned with the toxin), traveler's diarrhea and viral gastroenteritis.

  16. Pain in joints, back pain, eye trouble or mouth ulceration?

    Why: may suggest inflammatory bowel disease.

  17. Neurological symptoms?

    Why: e.g. double vision, blurred vision, sensitivity of the eyes to light, poor coordination and difficulty with speaking - may suggest botulism caused by the neurotoxin of clostridium botulinum which flourishes in preserved anaerobic food.

  18. Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome?

    Why: e.g. Alternating diarrhea and constipation, abdominal bloating, abdominal pain that is relieved by opening the bowels or passing wind.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Frequent bowel movements:

The following list of conditions have 'Frequent bowel movements' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Frequent bowel movements or choose View All.

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Conditions listing medical complications: Frequent bowel movements:

The following list of medical conditions have 'Frequent bowel movements' or similar listed as a medical complication in our database.


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