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A yellowish pigmentation of the skin, the whites of the eyes (sclera), and other mucous membranes caused by increased levels of bilirubin in the blood that build up in extracellular fluid, usually due to liver disease.
The changes associated with aging of the digestive system are largely caused by decreased nerve sensitivity, loss of muscle tone, and increased susceptibility to bacterial infection because of a weakened immune system. Thus, changes include loss of strength and tone of muscular tissue and supporting muscular tissue, decreased secretory mechanisms, decreased motility of the digestive organs, changes in neurosensory feedback regarding enzyme and hormone release, and diminished response to internal sensations and pain.
In the upper GI tract, common issues include:
Periodontal disease, which is caused by bacterial infection and affects alveolar bone, periodontal ligament, cementum, and/or gingiva.
Difficulty swallowing due to loss of muscle tone.
Reduced sensitivity to mouth irritations and sores, likely caused by nerve damage.
Loss of taste, which can be caused by local damage and inflammation that interferes with the taste buds stemming from radiation therapy, tobacco use, and denture use.
Gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach lining that can develop after traumatic injury or severe infection.
Peptic ulcer disease, largely due to weakened immune systems unable to clear the bacterial infection.
Issues common in the small intestine include:
Malabsorption of nutrients due to inflammatory bowel disease, radiation enteritis, digestive failure, and malnutrition.
Other pathologies that increase in occurrence with age include acute pancreatitis, jaundice, and gallbladder problems. Large intestinal changes such as hemorrhoids and constipation may also occur. Cancer incidence in general increases with age, including risk for rectal cancer.
“Aging and the Digestive System.”
Boundless Anatomy and Physiology
Boundless, 04 Nov. 2016.
Retrieved 23 Mar. 2017 from