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Suggest remedy for uncontrollable diarrhea in an elderly patient

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Posted on Mon, 16 May 2016
Question: Hello,
I am asking this question for my 84 year old father who is English, but now lives in Thailand.His problem started last year around November time. He experiences uncontrollable diarrhea during the day and night. Since November he has had endless tests which have ruled out cancers and bacterial infections. He does not experience pain, but has become quite house bound because of this condition. His doctors have not come up with any firm diagnosis. He has been prescribed Resincolestiramina powder, Metronidazole 400mg, and Hidrasec Racecadotril 100mg. These medications have only made a slight difference. Apart from this he is in good health, but did have a triple heart bypass three years ago. He is quite frustrated as this has been going on for months now, and he still does not know what is causing it. He is very health conscious and is very careful what he eats. Is there anything he should know or another test he should take. He has lost faith in the doctors in Thailand.
Thank you
XXXXX
doctor
Answered by Dr. Noble Zachariah (7 hours later)
Brief Answer:
Likely to be irritable bowel syndrome

Detailed Answer:
Hello,
Welcome and thanks for your query.
Your father's symptoms sound like irritable bowel syndrome as he is in fairly good health and serious problems like malignancy has been excluded. There are some possibilities like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and malabsorption syndrome.
It would be good to have a Hydrogen and Methane breath test if not done.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Follow up: Dr. Noble Zachariah (41 hours later)
Thank you Dr. XXXXXXX
Could you explain what a hydrogen and methane breath test is, and what does it diagnose. Also my mother has irritable bowel syndrome, but my father has uncontrollable diarrhea which goes on for weeks. I don't understand why the drugs he is on have not had much impact in controlling it.
XXXXX
doctor
Answered by Dr. Noble Zachariah (4 hours later)
Brief Answer:
Welcome. Correct diagnosis leads to better treatment outcome.

Detailed Answer:
There are bacteria in our gut which normally reside in the large intestine. In some people and in disease conditions like diabetes or any condition that decreases immunity they migrate and thrive in the small intestine also. The food that is not absorbed by the body is fermented by the bacteria producing hydrogen / methane. The breath test measures these. Depending on the reading and the time at which the abnormal values occur small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, malabsorption of food components can be diagnosed . Appropriate treatment is possible. IBS can be considered by exclusion.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Noble Zachariah

Internal Medicine Specialist

Practicing since :1974

Answered : 2318 Questions

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Suggest remedy for uncontrollable diarrhea in an elderly patient

Brief Answer: Likely to be irritable bowel syndrome Detailed Answer: Hello, Welcome and thanks for your query. Your father's symptoms sound like irritable bowel syndrome as he is in fairly good health and serious problems like malignancy has been excluded. There are some possibilities like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and malabsorption syndrome. It would be good to have a Hydrogen and Methane breath test if not done.