Consider swallowing disorders of nursing home residents

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Pay attention to swallowing disorders in old age

Experts recommend paying attention to swallowing disorders in nursing home residents. Up to 60 percent of them would suffer. If the problem is not dealt with, further health problems threaten.

Up to 60 percent of residents of old people's homes affected The German Society for Digestive and Metabolic Diseases (DGVS) advises to watch out for swallowing problems in old people's homes. According to the DGVS, up to 60 percent of all nursing home residents suffer from it. And in old age, other functions of the digestive tract are often impaired. Thomas Frieling, Director of the Medical Clinic II at the Helios Clinic in Krefeld, demands: "Through various functional examinations, doctors should consistently look for causes of complaints, especially in the elderly, to prevent malnutrition and thus a deterioration in the general condition."

Swallowing becomes a pain for the elderly Like the human body in general, the gastrointestinal tract also ages. "Above all, the fine network of nerve cells that control the mobility of the esophagus, stomach and intestines is susceptible to age changes," said Frieling. Because of the restricted functionality of the stomach, the stomach could absorb less food and the emptying would be delayed. Older people are therefore satiated more quickly and suffer more often from heartburn, which in turn damages the lining of the esophagus. To make matters worse, many diseases in old age would attack the intestine. Swallowing can become a pain for older people not only because of the aging of the esophagus, but also due to reduced salivation, bad teeth or inflammation of the mucous membranes, according to Frieling. In addition, swallowing disorders also occur in neurological diseases such as Parkinson's disease or after a stroke.

Medications can cause additional problems Another problem was medications, such as gastric acid blockers, because these sometimes impair digestive functions. "The stomach acid promotes digestion and kills germs," ​​explains Frieling. If the medication reduces gastric acid, the small intestine can become over-colonized with bloating, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. According to the DGVS, doctors have various diagnostic methods available for functional examinations. The society emphasizes that gastroscopy, ultrasound examinations and breath tests can be carried out without problems even in the elderly. (ad)

Image: Uwe Steinbrich /

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