Aging puts the body at higher risk for an assortment of health ailments and conditions.
With age, many bodily functions slow down, including your digestive tract, it just might not work as efficiently or as quickly as it used to. The muscles in the digestive tract become stiffer, weaker, and less efficient. Your tissues are also more likely to become damaged because new cells aren’t forming as quickly as they once did.As a result, digestive tract problems that can occur as people age.
It’s important that you to seek help for any digestive discomforts and not simply brush them off as part of aging.
Seniors may also have unusual symptoms of more serious digestive disorders that can easily be missed. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) tends to be more serious in seniors, but older adults may show less common reflux symptoms, such as coughing or wheezing, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The main reason that aging affects the digestive tract is that aging usually brings on other health conditions — and medication to deal with those conditions.
- Diabetes and gastroparesis. “As people age, they get diabetes, and that can cause a lot of [movement] problems in the bowel,” says Francisco J. Marrero, MD, a gastroenterologist with the Digestive Health Center at Lake Charles Memorial Health System in Louisiana. “They also get gastroparesis — that’s probably the most significant effect of aging on the bowels.” Gastroparesisis a disorder in which food takes a long time to clear the stomach, resulting in many unpleasant symptoms. Gastroparesis tends to be more common in women, notes the American College of Gastroenterology, and causes frequent bloating and nausea.
- Artery blockages. Dr. Marrero says blockages in older people are also very common. Blockages in arteries can affect blood flow to the bowels, a condition called intestinal ischemia, during which blood flow to the intestines decreases in a fashion similar to what happens with a heart attack. “More systemic problems that are more common with age are really the reason for digestive tract issues,” he explains.
- Arthritis and hypertension. Many older people also take a variety of medications to manage chronic conditions like arthritis and high blood pressure, and the drugs used to treat both of those conditions can have digestive tract side effects.
“Older people tend to have more joint problems with arthritis and therefore may need medication to treat that,” Marrero says. “They are at increased risk of peptic ulcer disease when they take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDs], a fact often overlooked in people that are prescribed those medications.”
People taking over-the-counter NSAIDs for everyday aches and pains are also at risk of developing ulcers and other digestive tract problems. “They should always be on something to protect their stomachs,” Marrero recommends. Senior women, in particular, are more susceptible to developing an inflammation of the stomach called gastritis, which can result from frequent use of NSAIDs, according to the American College of Gastroenterology.
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.everydayhealth.com
As people age, it’s important to maintain a close overview of their health, as many of the functions of the body naturally change with time. From degeneration of the joints, among others, the function of the digestive tract may slow down, and it’s essential to be aware of its effects and what to do to ease these bodily functions.
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