Defecation Frequency and Stool Form in Rural and Urban African Settings
Background: Evaluation of patients who present with diarrhea and constipation requires a good knowledge of what constitutes normal defecation frequency and stool form. This study was designed to determine the normal defecation frequency and normal stool form in adult rural and urban dwellers in Southeast Nigeria.
Materials and Methods: This was an observational, descriptive, cross‑sectional, questionnaire‑based study of adults in rural and urban settings in Southeast Nigeria. Defecation frequency was recorded as number of bowel motions per week, while stool form was determined with the use of the Bristol stool scale. Variables included in the questionnaire were age, sex, occupation, level of education, use of alcohol, cigarette smoking, use of kolanut, use of coffee, and body mass index. Data were analyzed with SPSS v 23.
Results: There were 670 participants (61.6% females and 56.7% rural dwellers). The 25 and 75 percentiles of the stool form were Bristol types 3 and 4, while the 25 and 75 percentiles of defecation frequency were 7 and 14. Defecation frequency was higher in males than females (P = 0.006), while stool form was significantly affected by age (P = 0.001), sex (P = 0.041), and place of abode (P = 0.001).
Conclusion: In Southeast Nigeria, normal defecation frequency is between 7 and 14 bowel motions per week, while normal stool forms are Bristol types 3 and 4. Age, sex, and place of abode significantly affect defecation frequency and stool form.
Keywords: Africa, defecation frequency, stool form