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A Tummy Ache – Again?

Seniors Are More Susceptible To Digestive Disorders

When the digestive system works properly, it breaks down foods into
forms that the body uses to build and nourish its cells, and to provide
the fuel and energy we need to live. Of course, it does not always work
to our liking. We have all had an upset stomach at one time or another.
It’s a rotten feeling – cramps, nausea, etc. Hopefully, the symptoms go
away quickly and our appetite returns.

In addition to a tummy ache, there are a variety of digestive disorders
that people can encounter. These ailments can develop in people of all
ages, however, they are more common with seniors. They may have
less secretions from the digestive organs. Also, as we age, swallowing
and the contractions that move food through the digestion process
decrease. In fact, John Hopkins Medicine reports that nearly 40% of
older adults have one or more digestive disorder symptoms each year.

Folded into the abdomen, the length of the small intestine is about 21' in an adult. The large intestine is only 5' long, but thicker. That's why it is considered larger.
Folded into the abdomen, the
length of the small intestine
is about 21′ in an adult. The
large intestine is only 5′
long, but thicker. That’s why
it is considered larger.

Disorders

Here is a list of more common digestive disorders,
many of which you have probably heard of.

  •  Heartburn (acid reflux)
  •  Stomachache (dyspepsia)
  •  Appendicitis
  •  Diarrhea and constipation
  •  Peptic ulcer
  •  Diverticulitis
  •  Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  •  Excess gas
  •  Gastrointestinal bleeding
  •  Swallowing difficulties
  •  Colon polyps and colon cancer
  •  Hemorrhoids
  •  Pancreas, liver, and gallbladder problems

The System

The digestive system is a continuous tube that
processes food and liquids in the body. Extending
from the mouth to the anus, it is also known as the
gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It consists of various
parts, including organs that play supporting roles.
Here are the major parts of the digestive system.

  •  Mouth (teeth, tongue, salivary glands)
  •  Throat (pharynx, esophagus)
  •  Stomach
  •  Pancreas
  •  Liver
  •  Gall bladder
  •  Small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, ileum)
  •  Large intestine or colon (ascending,
    transverse, descending, sigmoid)
  •  Rectum and anus

(Sources: HealthInAging.org, JohnHopkinsHealthAlerts.com, MayoClinic.com)

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