Updated on: Friday, September 24, 2021, 10:16 AM IST

Gastrointestinal problems to watch out for as you age

Once you grow older not only heart or kidney problems, diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol will give you a tough time but even digestive issues too.

Are you growing older? Noticing any changes in your digestive system? Do you frequently suffer from diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and cramping or acidity? Then, it is time to review your digestive health on priority. There are a variety of gastrointestinal problems that can steal your peace of mind and reduce your quality of life. Read on to know more about this, and take care of your digestive system right away.

Once you grow older not only heart or kidney problems, diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol will give you a tough time but even digestive issues too. Yes, a large number of people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s encounter a wide range of gastrointestinal problems that hamper their quality of life. It is a no-brainer that the digestive system works harder to digest food that one eats. But, as you age, you will see some changes in the digestion process.

While ageing the stomach produces less acid and even the muscles in your gastrointestinal tract can become weak. Hence, one may suffer from constipation. Even certain medications can lead to acidity and heartburn. The risk of developing polyps in your colon increases at that age and one can get colon cancer. Gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) is when the stomach acid gets backed up into the oesophagus, causing heartburn and other symptoms.

If not treated at the right time, then the acid changes the lining of your oesophagus and leads to a condition called Barrett’s oesophagus. Diverticulosis develops when pouches form in the digestive tract, in your colon that is the large intestine, and leads to cramping, bloating, and even vomiting. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is also a common occurrence wherein the fat gets deposited into one’s liver and it can also lead to scarring of the liver. Other issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Chron’s disease can also be worrisome and may require immediate attention.

Here are some vital tips that you need to take in order to improve your digestion

  • Eat a fibre-rich diet that includes fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This will regulate your bowel movements. But, avoid taking laxatives when you have constipation. Instead of that, you can visit a doctor.

  • Avoid too much salt and sugar, and foods like bread, pasta, pizza, chips, and colas. That means you need to give up on oily, spicy, junk, and processed foods.

  • Avoid acidic foods like tomato products, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower that can cause acidity.

  • Drink plenty of water cut down on smoking and alcohol. Do not sleep immediately after eating food to avoid acidity.

  • Have probiotics that are gut-friendly and can improve your digestion.

  • Exercise every day to stay fit and fine. Try to maintain a healthy weight. De-stress by doing what you like or meditate as stress can also affect the digestive system.

  • Watch for danger signs like weight loss, blood in the stools black colour stools alternate diarrhoea and constipation. These may be signs of gastrointestinal cancer and you should meet Gastrointestinal specialist.

(The author is a Director and Gastroenterologist, Zen Multispeciality Hospital)


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Published on: Friday, September 24, 2021, 10:12 AM IST