NewZNew (S A S Nagar) : Nearly 40% senior citizens develop some form of digestive disorder as they age, thus making it important for them to maintain good eating habits and a healthy lifestyle. Sharing this today during a free talk organized for Mohali Senior Citizens’ Association, Dr Mohinish Chhabra, Senior Consultant – Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Fortis Hospital Mohali, said while digestive health issues can occur at any age, the seniors are particularly vulnerable, given that many bodily functions – including those related to the digestive tract – slow down with age.
“The muscles in the digestive tract become stiffer, weaker, and less efficient. Your tissues are also more likely to get damaged because new cells aren’t forming as quickly as they once did,” he elaborated.
Talking about the common problems associated with old age, Dr Chhabra said, “As people reach their 60s and 70s, the commonest problem is constipation. What patients don’t realize is that medication – whose usage goes up as they age – can increase the problem. For example, calcium channel blockers used for high blood pressure can lead to constipation in some patients. Narcotic pain relievers are another common culprit. An older adult who has knee or hip replacement surgery will often be given narcotics for pain. Heartburn is another issue that’s often seen. This is caused by reflux of acid into the esophagus, which connects the mouth and the stomach.”
Dr Chabbra said inactivity aggravates problems related to digestion. “Therefore, I strictly advise patients to keep up some sort of exercise regimen that is ok to follow, given their other health problems.
“Staying hydrated helps prevent constipation at any age. It can become more of an issue for older adults who take diuretics for high blood pressure or heart failure. Diuretics lower blood pressure by causing you to lose excess fluid by urinating more often. Some people may avoid drinking too many fluids so they don’t have to run to the bathroom all day long. Between urinating more and drinking less, you can become dehydrated,” he shared.
Talking about the prevalence of Diverticular Disease, the Fortis gastroenterologist said, “About half of people aged 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. While many people don’t have any symptoms, gas, bloating, cramps and constipation may occur.”
Fortunately, your digestive tract doesn’t have to become a victim of age. Like the rest of your body, it can often be protected with a healthy lifestyle. If you want to keep your digestive tract in good shape and keep uncomfortable symptoms at bay, try these tips that can make digestion a little easier:
- Eat small, frequent meals to limit acid build up.
- Keep a daily food diary to help identify foods that cause gastric irritation
- Stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water.
- Limit fats in your diet, and maintain a healthy body weight.
- Load your diet with fibre.
- Stick to healthy portion sizes and avoid overeating.
- Use medications cautiously; regular use of pain relievers containing aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen can thin the mucosal lining of the stomach.
- Heartburn can often be eliminated by avoiding Smoking , Caffeine, Chocolate
Get regular exercise.