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Effects of Aging on the Digestive System


Atenodoro R. Ruiz, Jr.

, MD, The Medical City, Pasig City, Philippines

Last full review/revision Oct 2019| Content last modified Oct 2019
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With age, the strength of esophageal contractions Throat and Esophagus The throat (pharynx—see also Throat) lies behind and below the mouth. When food and fluids leave the mouth, they pass through the throat. Swallowing of food and fluids begins voluntarily and... read more and the tension in the upper esophageal sphincter decrease (called presbyesophagus), but the movement of food is not impaired by these changes. However, some older adults can be affected by diseases that interfere with esophageal contractions.


With age, the stomach lining's capacity to resist damage decreases, which in turn may increase the risk of peptic ulcer disease Peptic Ulcer Disease A peptic ulcer is a round or oval sore where the lining of the stomach or duodenum has been eaten away by stomach acid and digestive juices. Peptic ulcers can result from Helicobacter pylori... read more Peptic Ulcer Disease , especially in people who use aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Also with age, the stomach Stomach The stomach is a large, bean-shaped, hollow muscular organ consisting of three regions: Cardia Body (fundus) Antrum (See also Overview of the Digestive System.) read more cannot accommodate as much food (because of decreased elasticity), and the rate at which the stomach empties food into the small intestine decreases. However, these changes typically do not cause any noticeable symptoms. Aging has little effect on the secretion of stomach juices such as acid and pepsin, but conditions that decrease acid secretion, such as atrophic gastritis Gastritis is inflammation of the stomach lining. The inflammation can be caused by many factors, including infection, stress resulting from severe illness, injury, certain drugs, and disorders... read more , become more common.

Small intestine

Pancreas, liver, and gallbladder

Large intestine and rectum

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