Aging and Digestion

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As we age, a number of different changes can occur to our body, including to our digestive system. There are a variety of reasons for the change, including medication side effects, inactivity, and dehydration.

Here are some common conditions of the digestive system which occur more frequently the older we get.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as acid reflux, occurs more often in older adults. Diet has an impact – fast foods or acidic foods may exacerbate symptoms. Certain medications may also have an effect, including some blood pressure medications. If you are concerned about your acid reflux, talk to your doctor to see what you can do.

Peptic ulcers
Peptic ulcers are sores which form often resulting from ongoing acid reflux. If you have arthritis or another chronic illness, you may take anti-inflammatory drugs like Aleve, Aspirin, and Motrin. Though these can help ease symptoms, some of these drugs can make you more prone to ulcers. If you have acid reflux or heartburn which persists, it might be worth looking into with your doctor. Though heartburn once in a while is not a big deal, over time it can cause damage.

This occurs when small pouches occur in the lining of the intestine. Up to half of seniors have Diverticulosis. While many people don’t have any symptoms, gas, bloating, cramps, or other uncomfortable symptoms may occur. If you do have digestive issues and you suspect Diverticulosis, talk to your family doctor. You can also try Probiotics, which can increase the number of friendly bacteria in your system and calm symptoms.

Polyps are small abnormal membrane growths which may occur throughout the digestive tract including the stomach, intestines, and colon. Though often harmless, they can lead to complications including severe pain and internal bleeding. If experience pain in your lower abdomen, or when going to the bathroom, it’s definitely time to talk to your doctor.

Aging comes with many changes, including your digestive health. Remember, being aware of your body can help manage any conditions which may lead to complications.