This article is from the WebMD Feature Archive WebMD archives content after 2 years to ensure our readers can easily features of the digestive tract in children of early age the most timely content. To find the most current information, please enter your topic of interest into our search box. Getting older has pluses and minuses. On the plus side, you get more time to relax and enjoy life.
On the minus side lie many health challenges — including an increase in digestive health disorders. Of course, problems with digestion can occur at any age. Here’s an overview of common digestive health problems that may arise with age. Learn why they occur and what you can do to keep your digestive system running smoothly well into your later years. Older adults take a lot of medications, says Ellen Stein, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD.
And as we age, we start to have more health problems that require medications. Several common medications can cause constipation. People often become less active as they age, says Stein, and being inactive can make you constipated. Bed rest during an illness can cause real problems.
If a person has joint-replacement surgery, for example, it takes time to recover and be fully active again. Staying hydrated helps prevent constipation at any age. About half of people age 60 and older have diverticulosis. This occurs when small pouches in the lining of the colon bulge out along weak spots in the intestinal wall. Problems with the mouth and esophagus.
The esophagus is the tube that connects our mouth to our stomach. After age 50, the risk increases for developing polyps, or small growths, in the colon. Polyps may be noncancerous, they may become cancer, or they may be cancer. We don’t know what causes polyps,” Hanan says. GI disorder in older adults, although people of all ages can get it.
The things that are good for all older Americans are really good for the gut,” Stein tells WebMD. These tips can help you protect your digestive health and your overall well-being. Stein and Hanan recommend using medications with care. Talk with your doctor to see if your medications could be causing any digestive symptoms. If you use NSAIDs for pain, work with your doctor to find the lowest effective dose, and be sure to take them with food. Also check with your doctor to make sure you are taking only the medications you need. Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days week can help prevent many age-related health problems.
It will also help keep you regular and decrease the risk for colon cancer. Foods high in fiber, including fruits and vegetable, whole grains, and beans also tend to be high in nutrients and low in fat. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Drink enough so that you don’t feel thirsty.