Changes in poop habits can sometimes indicate underlying issues that require medical attention. Both diarrhea and constipation can lead to complications, and recognizing potential red flags is crucial for seeking timely medical help. According to Stanford Medicine, constipation, while often causing discomfort and irritation, can lead to more serious consequences, such as hemorrhoids, rectal bleeding, and tears around the anus (anal fissures). However, constipation may also lead to severe complications, including rectal prolapse, which is when the large intestine pushes out of the rectum, and fecal impaction. Per the NIDDK, seeking immediate medical attention is essential if, besides having trouble pooping, you notice bleeding from the rectum or bloody stools, abdominal pain that doesn’t go away, inability to pass gas, vomiting, fever, or unexplained weight loss.
On the same note, the NIDDK warns that diarrhea, if left unaddressed, can result in complications like mild to severe dehydration and malabsorption, both of which are cause for concern and require prompt medical intervention. When dealing with diarrhea, you should get in touch with your healthcare provider if it lasts more than two days, you have a high fever and frequent vomiting, you count six or more loose stools per day, you have severe abdominal pain, or if stools are black and tarry or contain blood or pus. Additionally, symptoms of dehydration (e.g., dry mouth, dark urine, or dizziness) should not be ignored. Recognizing these red flags and seeking prompt medical help ensures that potential complications are addressed early, leading to better outcomes.