There are numerous causes of frequent solid bowel movements. Frequent bowel movements that are not diarrhea can happen due to infections, food allergies, and more.

Many people associate frequent bowel movements with diarrhea, which involves loose or watery stools. However, a wide variety of factors could cause frequent solid bowel movements. These factors include a person’s diet, food allergies, and underlying health conditions.

In this article, we explore how often bowel movements are likely to occur in people with a good health status. We also cover the causes and treatment of frequent solid bowel movements and explain when to see a doctor.

frequent bowel movements not diarrhea can be treated with dietary changesShare on Pinterest
Credit Image: Ake Ngiamsanguan/Getty Images

The frequency and consistency of bowel movements can be important indicators of an individual’s health.

However, health experts do not cite a specific number of bowel movements as being normal or healthy.

The general standard is that most people have one to three bowel movements a day. However, research suggests that having three bowel movements a week is still healthy.

Having fewer than three bowel movements in a week may indicate constipation, particularly if the stools are hard and difficult to pass.

Conversely, three or more watery bowel movements in a day may mean that an individual has diarrhea.

These are general standards and will not apply to everyone. It is important that people consider what is typical for them and take action if they notice any significant or persistent changes in their toilet habits.

Research shows that a wide variety of factors can cause frequent bowel movements:

Frequent bowel movements that are not diarrhea often respond well to self-care, such as using over-the-counter (OTC) medications for symptom relief.

Treatment recommendations for IBS, a common cause of frequent bowel movements, include:

  • adjusting the diet to support healthy digestion
  • engaging in regular physical activity
  • taking steps to manage stress, such as practicing mindfulness or yoga
  • treating symptoms of constipation, diarrhea, or stomach pain with OTC or prescription medications, such as loperamide, laxatives, or antispasmodics.

Experts recommend seeing a doctor if diarrhea lasts more than 2 days.

Frequent solid bowel movements do not present the same risk of dehydration as diarrhea. However, a person who is frequently passing solid stools should see a doctor if they:

  • develop a fever
  • notice blood in their stool
  • start vomiting or feeling nauseated
  • experience painful stomach cramps
  • cannot control their bowel movements

Adhering to a healthful lifestyle can sometimes help people avoid frequent solid bowel movements. Dietary practices that may be particularly useful include:

  • adding foods high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, to the diet gradually
  • limiting the intake of gluten and products containing gluten
  • seeking a doctor’s advice on supplementing the diet with probiotics to increase the “good” bacteria in the gut

Other practices that may help maintain a healthy frequency of bowel movements include:

The main thing to consider regarding frequent solid bowel movements is whether this pattern represents a change for the individual.

Most of the time, changes in bowel habits are short-term responses to a particular food, a passing virus, or too much coffee, and a person can resolve them with self-care.

Adopting a healthful lifestyle, following a well-balanced diet, and learning to manage stress can help maintain the regularity of bowel movements.