The Gastrointestinal System and the Elderly

  • Thomas W. Sheehy
Part of the Contemporary Geriatric Medicine book series (COGM, volume 3)


Gastrointestinal diseases increase with age, and their clinical presentations are often confused by functional complaints and by pathophysiologic changes affecting the individual organs and the nervous system of the gastrointestinal tract. Hence, the statement that diseases of the aged are characterized by chronicity, duplicity, and multiplicity is most appropriate in regard to the gastrointestinal tract. Functional bowel distress represents the most common gastrointestinal disorder in the elderly. Indeed, over one-half of all their gastrointestinal complaints are of a functional nature. In view of the many stressful situations confronting elderly patients, such as loss of loved ones, the fears of helplessness, insolvency, ill health, and retirement, it is a marvel that more do not have functional complaints, become depressed, or overcompensate with alcohol. These, of course, make the diagnosis of organic complaints all the more difficult in the geriatric patient. In this chapter, we shall deal primarily with organic diseases afflicting the gastrointestinal tract of the elderly. To do otherwise would require the creation of a sizable textbook.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome Acute Pancreatitis Gastric Ulcer Acute Pancreatitis Acute Cholecystitis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas W. Sheehy
    • 1
  1. 1.Birmingham Veterans Administration Medical CenterUniversity of Alabama in Birmingham, School of MedicineBirminghamUSA

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