ZocdocAnswersI have "incomplete" bowel movements. What could it be?

Question

I have "incomplete" bowel movements. What could it be?

Recently, my bowel movements have been usually loose, watery and small (like a small animal). I feel "incomplete," I think is the term, as if I have more to move but it's not coming out. I tried using Metamucil to 'force' it along, and that just left me bloated and now a little constipated. The only change to my diet has been a few protein shakes, but nothing crazy. What can I do to get past this? I'm a 43 yo male, overweight (230 lbs), 6'0" with no history (family or otherwise) to point to anything. Thanks!

Answer

The feeling you are describing is called tenesmus and I suggest that you schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist. This is the word we use to describe the feeling of incomplete evacuation of the colon even though we just had a bowel movement. There are multiple causes of this symptom. If you combine this symptoms along with intermittent constipation, it is possible that you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a very common condition that causes abdominal pain, the feeling of bowl urgency, tenesmus, and relief of the pain after bowel movements. Intermittent diarrhea, loose stools, and constipation are also common. Other causes of these symptoms include inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. However, people often also complain of bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, and sometimes fever. Again, I suggest that you schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist. The two of you can discuss your symptoms in more detail. Usually, gastroenterologists will want to perform a comprehensive workup prior to making a diagnosis. This usually means that you will need an imaging study of your belly and possibly a colonoscopy or upper endoscopy. Finally, if irritable bowel syndrome is what you end up having, you can get treatment such as a daily medication and a special diet that can help reduce your symptoms. Good luck.

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