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Have been swinging from diarrhoea and constipation. Not had a bowel movement. Suggest?

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My husband 80 yrs. old, has for the past two weeks been swinging from diarrhea and constipation. He now has not had a bowel movement for three days and is feeling miserable. What can I do to help him. We have a GI doctor appt. July 1 and can't see her any earlier.
Posted Mon, 8 Jul 2013 in Digestion and Bowels
Answered by Dr. Grzegorz Stanko 23 minutes later

Thank you for the query.

Diarrhea and constipation alternately at the age of 80 can be a very serious symptom. It can indicate partial bowels obstruction due to colon cancer.
Bowels obstruction gives also bloated abdomen, loss of appetite, weakness due to low hemoglobin level (bleeding to the stool), blood in stool, weight loss, nausea.

As this condition can be life threatening, should be ruled out at first. He should not wait for GI doctor appointment. He should rather visit ER and have basic tests - abdominal X-ray, abdominal ultrasound and blood work done. This is the best thing you can do for him. Other ways are too risky.

Other possible reason of such symptoms are gastrointestinal infection or inflammatory bowels disease.

Hope this will help. Feel free to ask further questions.
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