It happens to all of us at some point -- the occasional stomach upset that's actually constipation or diarrhea. Women are more likely to experience bowel issues than men, but they're also more likely to consult their doctor about them. Chronic bouts of either constipation or diarrhea, or sudden, intense bouts of either, can indicate something more serious than just an upset gut. For example, alternating chronic constipation and diarrhea may be caused by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Chronic constipation can be a symptom of colon cancer or thyroid problems. Acute diarrhea can signal an infection or food intolerance, while chronic diarrhea could be a symptom of celiac disease.
Even if there's nothing truly serious going on, don't suffer with the pain and embarrassment of these conditions. See your doctor if over-the-counter remedies aren't doing the trick and the problem doesn't resolve itself. Also, find out if your lifestyle may be to blame. Simply eating a more balanced diet, drinking lots of water and exercising can help. Your physician can suggest a diet plan or refer you to a nutritionist.