One hundred consecutive patients admitted to hospital because of acute diarrhoea are described. The commonest causes of diarrhoea were found to be faecal impaction, infection and drugs, although in a third of the cases no cause was found. Faecal impaction was significantly more common in those living alone or in institutions than in those living with their families. The study suggests that the elderly population is very intolerant of the symptom of diarrhoea, and a case is made for the provision of facilities for more efficient assessment and treatment.

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