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Dear Dr Nina: Are cramps before bowel movements normal?

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You should seek further medical care

You should seek further medical care

You should seek further medical care

Recently, I have had a change in my bowel movements. First thing in the morning, I get stomach cramps and when I go to the toilet, my stools are rather loose. I haven't had any change to my diet and my stress levels etc have remained the same. What could this be?

Answer: Most of the nutrients we eat get absorbed in the stomach and small intestine. Undigested material enters the colon and travels through here, resulting in the absorption of water and the production of solid stool. If there is inflammation or irritation of the gut, or if cramping or infection are causing rapid transit of food through the intestines, fluid may not be absorbed as well as usual and loose stool may occur.

Eating food or drinking fluids (especially caffeine) can stimulate movement in the gut so many will find they may need to pass a bowel motion after eating breakfast or having their morning tea or coffee. Cramps before bowel motions are not considered normal. They may be simply due to trapped wind, but cramping followed by loose stool or diarrhoea can be a sign of infection or inflammation.


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