Stomach warning signs should not be ignored, especially if you are a senior citizen, according to doctors at the Cleveland Clinic.
Seniors are more susceptible to digestive discomfort and gastrointestinal issues, due to weaker immune systems and to side effects of the many medications they take. For the most part, they’re not serious, but nevertheless — if symptoms persist, you should see your doctor.
Here are a few gastrointestinal symptoms you should not ignore.
Stomach Warning Signs: Difficulty Swallowing
If you have pain when swallowing, with or without food, it could be an indication of esophageal cancer. This cancer is most common in adults over 55 and four times more likely to occur in men than women, according to the CDC.
Other possibilities that may cause discomfort when you swallow are: an infection, an ulcer, or a sore or scar tissue.
Another possibility could be a chronic allergic inflammatory disease that is a major cause of swallowing issues. To pinpoint the cause of your problem, the gastroenterologist does a procedure called an endoscopy.
Stomach Warning Signs: Blood In The Stool
The most common causes are hemorrhoids. But blood in your stool can also be one of the first symptoms of colon cancer, especially if it’s accompanied by a change in your bowel habits or the shape of your stool. Since colon cancer is more common among those over age 50, it’s especially important for senior citizens to see a doctor without delay. Other possible causes of bleeding are colon polyps, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), colitis and diverticulosis.
Stomach Warning Signs: Unexplained Weight Loss
Weight loss that happens without a change to your diet or exercise schedule should not be ignored.
Most seniors gain weight as they age because their metabolism slows down. Here is the benchmark that should trigger a visit to yo doctor for a check up. Either, if you’re losing weight without much effort — or you’ve dropped 5 percent or more of your body weight within the last six to 12 months.
Possible reasons could be cancer, peptic ulcers, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease or an overactive thyroid.
is an experience especially prevalent among senior citizens. It’s typically defined as three or fewer bowel movements per week. If you’re a senior, this could be a serious issue, especially if it has gone on longer than 7 days.
Constipation can be caused by a wide variety of issues, including medications, a diet low in fiber, and medical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid issues, diabetes or, in rare cases, colorectal cancer. If you are experiencing these symptoms, see your doctor.
Stomach Warning Signs: Sudden, Intense Abdominal Pain
A sharp pain that doesn’t let up can indicate acute appendicitis (if it’s on your lower right side), diverticulitis or a serious infection. If it’s something serious, usually the pain keeps escalating and doesn’t let up.
If you don’t have one of the above symptoms, still go see your doctor. There could still be some type of serious issue.
The earlier you detect a problem, the more options you have and the better your chances of success at managing it. The rule of thumb for seniors is if something bothers you, get it checked out.