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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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What do abdominal pain, loss of appetite and thirst indicate in an elderly?

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Dr. Panagiotis Zografakis

Internal Medicine Specialist

Practicing since :1999

Answered : 3552 Questions

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Posted on Tue, 21 Aug 2018 in Elderly Problems
Question: My Father is 80 years old and has been complaining about his abdomen hurting, loss of appetite, always being thirsty. This has been ongoing for 3 days and he won't go to the Hospital. This morning he stated his abdomen isn't hurting, but still can't eat alot. Naturally, he's having very little bowel movements. Any answers? It seemed the pain went away after giving him an Aleve yesterday morning.
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Answered by Dr. Panagiotis Zografakis 37 minutes later
Brief Answer:
can't be diagnosed from afar...

Detailed Answer:

Hello and Welcome to ‘Ask A Doctor’ service. I have reviewed your query and here is my advice.

I understand your concerns but nobody can diagnose anything from afar. Abdominal pain can be particularly difficult to diagnose sometimes even after examining a patient. I can comment on his symptoms though.

Thirst usually means loss of 'effective blood volume'. In most cases this means either dehydration or blood loss. If it were blood loss then other symptoms should have appeared concurrently like faintness, low blood pressure, low urine output, etc. Dehydration on the other hand is likely in a patient that refuses to eat (and drink, I suppose).

The presence of bowel movements (if the stool looks normal) means that the bowel is working properly (no ileus). Loss of appetite accompanies far too many disorders to mention here so this is not a specific symptom.

Finally abdominal pain may be the presenting symptom of many disorders. Diagnosing the cause depends on the qualities of pain (location, duration, factors that aggravate or ease the pain, etc), clinical examination findings and sometimes lab tests and radiological assessment (abdominal X-ray or abdominal CT-scan).

Pain that lasts for many hours without relief usually requires medical attention. Pain that goes away is usually not urgent.

So in conclusion the only way to diagnose abdominal pain is by visiting a doctor. His symptoms are not diagnostic.

Hope I have answered your query.

Take care

Dr. Panagiotis Zografakis, Internal Medicine Specialist
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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