Bowel movement problems are caused by a person's diet, bacterial infections, stress, certain medications and some cancers, states WebMD. People may have infrequent or difficult passing of bowel movements or experience constipation; loose, watery stools; or diarrhea.
Constipation may be caused by insufficient water or fiber intake, consuming large quantities of dairy products or a change in a person's regular diet, according to WebMD. Medications that can cause constipation include antacid medications, narcotic drugs, iron supplements and antidepressants. Diseases such as colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis and hypothyroidism may also result in constipation. Pregnant women commonly have constipation. People with constipation experience hard stools, a swollen and painful abdomen and a sense of an incomplete bowel movement.
Diarrhea is often caused by a bacterial infection or food poisoning, explains WebMD. Other causes include food allergies, radiation therapy, malabsorption, hyperthyroidism, laxatives and alcohol abuse. People with diseases such as diabetes, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis experience diarrhea. Competitive runners may also experience diarrhea. Constipation may be followed by a bout of diarrhea. People with diarrhea experience abdominal bloating, nausea, vomiting and the urgency to pass a bowel movement. Contact a doctor if the diarrhea is bloody or accompanied by a fever that lasts longer than 24 hours.