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How Aging Impacts Digestive Health

How Aging Impacts Digestive Health

Aging and Your Digestive Health

Along with age comes many changes throughout your body. Bodily functions tend to become less efficient and don’t work as effectively, including your digestive system. Here’s what you need to know about how aging affects your digestive health and what you can do to combat the negative effects.

How Aging Affects Your Health

Later in life, your body goes through continuous changes that can negatively impact your digestive system. Here are some of the most common health conditions and factors that can wreak havoc on your gastrointestinal (GI) system.

Type 2 Diabetes and Gastroparesis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that type 2 diabetes most often develops in adults aged 45 and older. The majority of patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes also develop gastrointestinal symptoms throughout the course of the disease, with gastroparesis—a condition that prevents the stomach from emptying properly--being one of the most common.

Symptoms of gastroparesis include:

  • Bloating
  • Early fullness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Bloating

Blocked Arteries

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), artery blockages occur most often in adults aged 65 and can limit, or completely restrict blood flow to the bowels. Subsequently, this restricted blood flow can cause a condition called colonic ischemia.

Symptoms of colonic ischemia can range from mild to severe, but often include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Urgent need to have a bowel movement
  • Sudden, forceful bowel movements

Colorectal Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, your risk for developing colorectal cancer goes up as you age. While you can get colon or rectal cancers at any age, it is much more common after the age of 50.


Many older people experience other health complications that require the use of medications that can have adverse effects on your digestive health. When starting a new medication, make sure your doctor reviews the side effects with you.

Protecting Your Digestive Health

While your risk of developing digestive issues increases as you age, fortunately, you can incorporate healthy habits into your routine to support your overall GI health. Follow these tips to keep your digestive system in top condition throughout your senior years.

  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat a balanced diet that is high in fiber
  • Get regular exercise
  • Practice portion control
  • Limit fatty and processed foods

Leading a healthier lifestyle not only helps to support the health of your gastrointestinal tract but also enables you to reduce your risk for other health issues. As a bonus, this can prevent the need for medications that can have negative side effects on your digestive system.

Gastroenterology Services in Northeast Ohio

At Southwest General Medical Group, Inc., our experienced team of physicians provides a wide range of services to diagnose and treat diseases of the digestive tract and liver. We are committed to working closely with you so that you can fully understand your testing and treatment options.

To learn more about our gastroenterology services or schedule an appointment, visit our website or call 440-816-5050.