Gastrointestinal System

  • Nages Nagaratnam
  • Kujan Nagaratnam
  • Gary Cheuk


The changes that occur in the gastrointestinal system with ageing can be basically attributed to three areas, namely, changes in neuromuscular function, changes in the structure of the gastrointestinal tract and changes in the absorptive and secretory functions of the bowel. In the oesophagus there is loss of enteron neurons with ageing. In the small intestine the primary structures affected by age are the intestinal villi with loss in height resulting in a decreased area available for absorption. Motility declines in the seventh and eighth decade of life. In the large intestine with increasing age and more so after the age of 60 years, there is thickening of the muscle layers of the colon. Few gastrointestinal functions decline to any significant level as a result of old age. Nevertheless, in older people, there is a decrease in the gastrointestinal reserves which make them extremely vulnerable to minor insults. The chapter reviews the pathophysiology of oesophageal disorders, peptic ulcer, colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel diseases and related disorders of the gastrointestinal tract such as malabsorption, malnutrition, diarrhoea, constipation and faecal incontinence in the elderly.


Gastrointestinal disorders Age-related changes Peptic ulcer Colorectal cancer Inflammatory diseases, diarrhoea 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nages Nagaratnam
    • 1
  • Kujan Nagaratnam
    • 2
  • Gary Cheuk
    • 3
  1. 1.Sydney Medical School (Westmead)The University of SydneyNorth RocksAustralia
  2. 2.Norwest Specialist Medical GroupBella VistaAustralia
  3. 3.Blacktown-Mt Druitt HospitalBlacktownAustralia

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