The effects of old age on your gut.
You might experience some gastrointestinal changes as you get older. This article will guide you to identify them and understand the changes.
1. Swallowing difficulty
The muscular contractions that initiate swallowing slow with age. The strength of esophageal peristalses also decreases and may no longer be triggered with each swallow. This may lead to swallowing difficulty.
2. Gastro-esophageal reflux
Both upper and lower esophageal sphincters lose tension. Relaxation of the lower sphincter leads to gastro-esophageal reflux.
3. Gastric lesions and ulcers
The capacity of the stomach lining to resist damage declines with age due to a weakened mucosal barrier. This makes older people more prone to gastric lesions, ulcers and painless gastrointestinal bleeding.
Certain bacteria residing in the small intestine overpopulate with age leading to bloating, pain and decreased absorption of nutrients such as calcium, folic acid and iron.
About half of people age 60 and older have diverticulosis. This occurs when small pouches in the lining of the colon bulge out. These pouches can become inflamed and can cause abdominal pain, cramping, fever, chills, nausea and vomiting.
After the age of 50, the risk increases for developing polyps or small growths in the colon. Not all polyps are cancerous but it is still advisable to go for screening colonoscopies after the age of 50.
Constipation is also a very common digestive problem in ageing. With ageing peristalses slow down causing food water to move slower through the colon and more water gets absorbed from the food waste causing constipation. Chronic medication use, inactivity and not drinking enough fluids also aggravate constipation.
Straining to eliminate feces may put additional pressure on weakening blood vessel walls, leading to hemorrhoids.
Should you experience or suspect one or more of the above symptoms, please contact us for futher advise.