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Bowel Tone in the Elderly

Bowel tone in the elderly population is a hot topic in the medical field. Nursing homes often cite bowel problems as a major concern of their residents. As we grow older, we wish to cling to our dignity and this can be difficult when you lose control of bodily functions.

Reasons for Loss of Bowel Tone

As people age, many of them develop problems such as urinary and bowel incontinence. However, this bodily failure isn’t necessarily inevitable. Promoting your digestive health throughout your life can reduce the chances of incontinence in the golden years. Loss of bowel tone in the elderly is probably the major cause of complete bowel incontinence.

Digestive Disorders

Your digestive anatomy may become less functional as you age. This fact is especially relevant if you commit a lifetime of abuse and neglect upon your body. While you may not feel like you’ve “abused” your body, if you’ve gotten by on fast and processed foods, this poor diet can come back to haunt you later. Not only do you need to concern yourself with cholesterol and heart disease, decades of dietary neglect can wreak havoc on your digestive system.  If you suffer from multiple digestive disorders (such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, or even chronic constipation) you have a much greater chance of losing bowel tone in the elderly hours of your lifespan.

If you have problems with your bowels, you can do things at any point in your life to help increase your bowel tone so that your digestive system will be healthier and be more controllable.

The Natural Aging Process

With age, bowel motility often decreases but this is not due to aging alone. The average American leads a sedentary life; and exercise is one factor known for helping your bowel movements stay regular. Many people joke about needing personal care when they get old or having to wear diapers again, but the reality is this occurs from neglecting your diet and overall health.

Not Enough Fiber

If you’ve led a relatively sedentary life and pretty much ate whatever you want, you might have inadvertently increased your chances of suffering from poor bowel tone in the elderly years. Eating refined and fast foods can build up toxic sludge within your body over time. Although the daily-recommended fiber intake is about 25 grams of fiber, most people do not consume even 50% of that amount!

Avoiding Exercise

The peristaltic contractions within the colon and even the rectum are muscular in nature. A lifetime of poor physical habits, such as sticking to the elevator at work, driving when you could have walked, and just avoiding exercise in general, could prove a nuisance for reducing bowel tone in the elderly. So don’t complain when you start getting older and your bowels don’t function as they once did if you preferred lifting doughnuts to lifting weights.

Laxative Abuse

Laxative abuse and even antacid use throughout your life could also take a toll on your colon’s ability to function normally. Bowel incontinence is characterized by the inability to control your bowel functions voluntarily. Seepage and liquid bowel movements (diarrhea) both result from loss of bowel tone in the elderly. Simply passing gas could result in leakage; and you could lose the advanced warning sensations telling you it’s time to “go.”

Medical Conditions

Beyond constipation, other causes for the loss of bowel tone in the elderly exist. Nerve or muscle-tissue damage from a stroke, prostate surgery, severe impaction, and hemorrhoids all contribute to bowel incontinence as well.

Improving Bowel Tone In The Elderly

Nonetheless, you can enhance bowel tone to lessen the likelihood of loss of control. Eating healthy, staying hydrated, and exercising as part of your regular lifestyle will promote healthy bowel habits and reduce the chances of constipation—the major contributing factor to loss of bowel tone.

Avoiding laxatives is also another wise suggestion. If you are constipated, try to use only organic methods for relieving constipation such as increasing fiber in your diet. If you notice that you produce extremely loose stools, increasing fibrous foods can help restore muscle tone gradually.

Doing Kegel exercises have been demonstrated to improve bladder and bowel control. Kegel exercises are usually practiced by pregnant women for strengthening the pelvic floor but are also being recommended for strengthening bowel tone in the elderly. If you practice tightening your anal muscles on a regular basis, you will notice an increase in strength related to the elimination process as well.

Colon cleansing and colonic irrigation via natural methods are considered effective ways to reduce constipation symptoms and increase bowel tone as well.

If you are experiencing digestive problems of any sort, you should seek medical attention to help rule out any serious concerns (such as colon cancer). If you suffer from bowel incontinence, your doctor will likely take stool samples, or perform a barium enema, ultrasound, and other tests to determine the cause. In severe cases of bowel incontinence, surgery may be necessary to alleviate the root problem, especially in cases of diminished bowel tone in the elderly.

Taking your health into your own capable hands early on can help prevent these types of problems later in life. Eating well, exercising, and receiving regular medical examinations can all provide assistance with improving your overall health. Your colon and digestive system are key components of regulating your vitality, so taking good care of your digestive system can pay you back as much as you choose to invest.

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