Q:

What ailments cause excessively narrow stools?

A:

Quick Answer

Irritable bowel syndrome and colon cancer can both cause narrow stools, although infrequent cases of narrow stools are most likely harmless, states Mayo Clinic. Patients should seek medical attention if their change in bowel habits lasts one to two weeks or longer.

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Full Answer

Additional symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include abdominal pain or discomfort, diarrhea, constipation and bloating, lists the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Sufferers may also experience a change in frequency in their bowel movements, a change in stool consistency and relief from their discomfort after having a bowel movement. The chronic condition may last years with symptoms coming and going, and symptoms may become worse for female sufferers when they are having their menstrual periods.

Signs and symptoms of colon cancer include diarrhea, constipation, changes in stool consistency, blood in the stool and persistent abdominal discomfort, according to Mayo Clinic. Sufferers may have the sensation that their bowels are never empty, and they may experience weakness, fatigue or unexplained weight loss. Many sufferers experience no symptoms in the early stages of colon cancer, and later symptoms may vary depending on the size and location of the tumor. If stools are pencil-thin, this may be the result of the cancer obstructing the colon.

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