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Dr. Phil, MD
Dr. Phil, MD, Medical Doctor
Category: Medical
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Experience:  Medical Doctor Trained at a Top Academic Institution
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I notice my stools are pencil thin, short and quickly sink.

Resolved Question:

I notice my stools are pencil thin, short and quickly sink. They are not hard and they have been occurring for months now. I’ve had colonoscopies regularly, the last one a few months ago, and the doctor diagnosed diverticulosis but no polyps. I eat plenty of fruits and veggies and feel I follow a correct diet. I have an enlarged prostate (I’m 69). Could this be the prostate pressuring the colon? Thanks for your reply. Jose
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. Phil, MD replied 5 years ago.
Hello. I would like to help you find an answer.

that is good you have had a colonoscopy. That is reassuring as the first thing one thinks of with a change in stool caliber is an obstruction.

How long have you had this stool change?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Actually, I have had pencil thin stools for years, but lately (in the last couple of months) I have noticed that they sink. I also have had periods of feces that are watery or semisolid, like mashed potatoes. But in general, I have had this situation for many months. My first colonoscopy done about 12 years ago was also because I reported the pencil thin feces, but no polyps were found. The second one, about 8 years ago, found and removed two polyps, and the third one, a couple of years ago, found no polyps, only the diverticulosis.
Expert:  Dr. Phil, MD replied 5 years ago.
Has your doctor recommended any treatment for this?

What have you tried over the years?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
No. In fact, I have not brought this issue to the doctor because generally he would refer me to an specialist. I see my doctor every six months and he performs the regular blood tests, etc. (I’m on Medicare), and he has found me in good general shape. I take my blood pressure medication (Athenolol-Chlorthal 50-25mg and Cetirizine 10mg), and take a Zopidem Tartrate 5mg to sleep. I do not have another appointment until August, but I wanted to get another opinion before then
Expert:  Dr. Phil, MD replied 5 years ago.
I suggest that this is possibly irritable bowel syndrome

You may want to try a daily fiber supplement like metamucil.

I know this sounds counterintuitive but the mainstay of IBS treatment is a stool softener.

It will help regular the bowel.

I would try this with a medication called bentyl to see if it helps
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Is metamucil compatible with diverticulosis? Also, what is bentyl? Does it need to be prescribed?
Expert:  Dr. Phil, MD replied 5 years ago.
Metamucil is not only compatible with it, it could potentially help it.

Bentyl is a prescription med for IBS. It might help in addition to the metamucil
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I checked bentyl to see what side effects it could have and noticed that it may interfere if you have an enlarged prostate glad, which I have. Do you believe that metamucil alone is sufficient, or should I consult with my doctor for another medication to replace bentyl. Also, is IBS responsible for causing bursts of diarrhea once in a while and periods of constipation at other times?
Expert:  Dr. Phil, MD replied 5 years ago.

You just clinched that diagnosis for me with that description.

alternating diarrhea and constipation is classic for IBS.

There are many meds to try other than bentyl. You can ask about hyoscyamine or others.

Start with metamucil first and if it doesn't work, ask your doctor about other IBS treatments.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Do you think that another colonoscopy is in order? I had the last one in August 2010. Also, could the enlarged prostate be a cause for the thin stools?
Expert:  Dr. Phil, MD replied 5 years ago.
No, you don't need another colonoscopy.

No, I don't think its the prostate.

I think it's IBS
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