Passing wind is a normal occurrence for healthy individuals. Most people release flatulence at least 14 times per day. While that’s a lot of tooting, older folks have the unbecoming reputation for passing gas more frequently than younger people. Here’s a look at why flatulence increases with age.
Air that passes through the digestive system and is released via the rectum is known as flatulence. Gases inside the digestive tract, like hydrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide, develop as the body breaks down food. These gases are released through flatulence.
Gases, like oxygen and nitrogen, can also accumulate in the digestive tract when a person swallows air while eating or drinking. While small amounts of air are normally swallowed each day, swallowing large amounts daily can lead to tooting more often.
The amount of gas a person passes depends on varying factors, including diet and medications. Additionally, certain health conditions can cause an individual to experience more gas. Older folks are likely to pass more wind for the following commonplace reasons.
1. Swallowing more air:
Swallowing a lot of air passes through the body via burping or as excessive flatulence. Seniors may swallow a good deal of air as a result of wearing loose dentures, drinking carbonated sodas, and eating or drinking too fast. Smoking and chewing gum also introduce more air into the body.
2. Dietary choices:
Foods seniors eat can contribute to uncomfortable gassiness. Carbohydrates, for instance, are notorious for causing gas. Vegetables often favored by old people and that increase the frequency of tooting include beans, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, artichokes, peas, corn, lentils, and broccoli.
Commonly eaten foods, such as whole grains, wheat, and oat bran lead to more instances of gas. Fruits, like prunes, raisins, apples, and pears equally contribute to bouts of gas. Milk, dairy products, and processed foods are known triggers for flatulence, too.
Since the aging body is unable to completely absorb certain foods, they pass from the intestine into the colon without being fully digested. Once in the colon, the food is broken down by bacteria, a process that releases gases. The buildup of gases causes flatulence.
Not all foods cause flatulence in all seniors. Older people who are made uncomfortable by gassy episodes are advised to keep track of the foods they eat. Narrow down which foods cause gaseous symptoms inside the body and avoid them whenever possible.
3. Slower metabolism:
Experts believe that older people’s metabolism slows down with age. Since the food sits longer in the digestive system, more gas is created, and frequent bouts of flatulence are the outcome. Plus, aging people naturally have less stomach acids, which are necessary to digest food well.
4. Weakened digestive muscles:
The digestive process begins at the mouth during the process of chewing and swallowing. The digestive tract includes the esophagus that connects the throat to the stomach, the esophageal sphincter that allows food to pass to the stomach, and the large and small intestines.
The organs of the digestive tract contain a layer of muscle that gives their walls movement and flexibility. Food travels from one organ to the next through muscle activity. When seniors’ digestive muscles lose strength, the digestive system slows down and more gas is produced.
5. Less lactase production:
Lactose intolerance increases with age. Older people’s bodies produce less lactase, which is an important enzyme needed to digest dairy products. As a result, seniors who drink milk, eat cheese, or consume other dairy products will find themselves tooting more frequently.
6. Medication side effects:
Constipation and bloating are common side effects of some medications, including those for high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or heart disease. Gas is retained when constipation occurs. Seniors may experience more frequent episodes of flatulence when taking these medications.
7. Medical conditions:
In addition to lactose intolerance and constipation, other temporary and chronic health conditions can contribute to excessive amounts of gas. Seniors suffering from gastroenteritis, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, peptic ulcers, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may pass wind more often.
How do seniors relieve excess gas?
Lifestyle changes and modifications to diet are home remedies that help reduce flatulence. Identify the foods that cause gas and try eating less of them. Consume easy to digest carbohydrates, such as rice and bananas, rather than eating large amounts of carbs that are difficult to digest.
Give the digestive system a break by eating five or six smaller meals throughout the day, instead of three big ones. Swallow less air by chewing properly and quitting smoking. Since constipation causes gas, ease this health problem by hydrating with plenty of water each day.
Seniors who engage in a regular exercise routine enhance their digestion, which in turn can prevent gas. Promote regular digestion and reduce gas by taking probiotics, such as Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium, which can be found in yogurt or are available as over-the-counter supplements.
Passing wind frequently can be an embarrassing event for some seniors or a source of abdominal discomfort. When your elderly loved one aims to reduce her flatulence, she may need to make lifestyle or dietary changes. Assisting Hands Home Care can help a senior achieve her health goals.
As a leading senior care agency staffed with teams of compassionate caregivers, we are prepared to support your elderly loved one with the activities of daily living. We prepare balanced meals that reduce gas, shop for foods that do not contribute to gas, and discreetly assist with personal hygiene tasks.
Seniors who take lactase to help relieve gas when eating dairy products are given medication reminders from our professional caregivers. We also provide transportation to the doctor’s office when the elderly care recipient aims to treat a health condition that causes flatulence.
Assisting Hands Home Care provides the highest level of nonmedical home health care. Our caregivers are licensed, bonded and insured, thereby delivering maximum peace of mind to families. Call us at (214) 865-7870 to schedule an in-home consultation and improve your senior loved one’s quality of life.
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