Common Stomach Problems As You Age – Reflux, Constipation and Bloatedness

3 Common Stomach Digestive Problems Faced By Elderly in Singapore

During a recent visit to the Sree Narayana Mission Nursing Home , Dr Ganesh was swamped with questions revolving stomach-related pains and problems. No one is exempt from stomach problems and many of us experience gastric pain or heartburn at one point in time or another.

When we experience stomach pain or cramps, we tend to attribute it to the common stomach flu. However, it is vital that any stomach discomfort you face is treated accordingly and not simply brushed aside as a symptom of aging or a common flu.

As we age, we become more susceptible to gastrointestinal changes and consequently face an increased risk of developing digestive disorders. Aging causes many bodily functions, including the digestive tract, to slow down in efficiency, leading to increased number of digestive tract problems.

With over 20 years of experience, Dr Ganesh Ramalingam is an expert General Surgeon who specialises in stomach-related disorders and surgeries. Dr Ganesh shares with us the three most common digestive disorders faced by the elderly in Singapore.

1. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

When the upflow of acid or contents in the stomach irritates the lining of your esophagus, it is known as a gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). More commonly known as acid reflux, it often causes discomfort along with heartburn, that is tightness or a burning sensation in your heart and chest.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

A. What Causes Acid Reflux?

In normal cases, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) – a valve at the entrance of your stomach – opens when you swallow food and closes as soon as it passes through. However, in patients with acid reflux problems, the valve fails to close completely leading to stomach acid travelling back into the esophagus. The LES is pivotal in its function of preventing acid or stomach contents from going back into the esophagus.

GERD occurs when the sphincter has weakened or is unable to close fully when it should. To learn more about acid reflux, click here.

B. How Do I Spot Acid Reflux Symptoms?

Heartburn is the most common symptom of acid reflux. This burning sensation in one’s chest could worsen from lying down right after eating food.

Not everyone suffering from GERD will experience heartburn. Some of the other possible symptoms include:

  1. Difficulty swallowing food (dysphagia)
  2. Chest pain
  3. Bad breath
  4. Dry cough
  5. Hoarseness in throat
  6. Regurgitation of food or sour liquid (acid reflux)
  7. Sensation of a lump in throat

C. Acid Reflux Treatments & Cure

If your conditions persist more than twice in a week, you should consider making an appointment with us.

There are a couple of treatment options available for those diagnosed with GERD. Without proper attention and care, bad acid reflux can negatively affect the quality of life as it disrupts sleep and everyday life. If left untreated, persistent acid reflux can cause the lining of the esophagus to deteriorate and leave the patient vulnerable to risks of esophageal cancer.

Book an appointment for your acid reflux problems with G&L Surgical Clinic today.

2. Constipation


Constipation is a common problem that can occur due to many reasons. Generally, having fewer than three bowel movements a week classifies as constipation. It is one of the most frequent gastrointestinal complaints.

Though it is a common problem, it tends to affect older people much more. The older you get, the weaker your digestive tract becomes. Coupled with a slower metabolism, constipation can become a chronic problem among the elderly.

A. What Causes Constipation?

When food moves too slowly through the digestive tract, the colon absorbs more water than usual causing the feces to harden. Bowel patterns may vary from person to person but when your bowel patterns begin to change, you should pay attention to the other symptoms you may be facing.

B. Do I Need To Go For A Colonoscopy Screening? | Constipation Symptoms

Apart from the common side effect of having fewer bowel movements, other symptoms include:

  1. Pain or cramping in the lower abdomen
  2. Blood in stools
  3. Lumps in stomach
  4. Above the age of 40 with a family history of stomach ailments

Though constipation can be common, it is hardly a problem unless it is a symptom of a bigger underlying problem such as colorectal cancer.

Not everyone who experiences constipation is encouraged to go for a colonoscopy. However, if you have been experiencing the symptoms of constipation for a long time, G&L Surgical recommends getting a colonoscopy done.

3. Colonoscopy Procedure & Screening: Why Should I Do It?

A colonoscopy involves taking samples of the large intestine to check for unusual growths. Going for a colonoscopy will lower the chances of you contracting colorectal cancer. As colorectal cancer develops from colon or rectal polyps that may become cancerous over time, a colonoscopy is the best way to detect and check for these polyps.

If you find yourself experiencing the above symptoms over a long period of time, it might be time to schedule an appointment. Call us to book a slot.

3. Bloating


It is hard to miss the signs of bloating. Many people experience a tightness in their abdomen, sometimes pain and discomfort if the bloating is unusually severe. Usually, people experience bloating right after eating too much.

In most cases, bloating is fairly harmless and causes range from indigestion to the build-up of gas in the stomach and bowels.

A. What Causes Bloating?

Common causes include gas build-up, food indigestion and fluid retention. Some of the lesser known causes are:

  1. Food intolerances
  2. Chronic disorders
  3. Stomach infections

Bloating usually goes away on its own after some time. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms, booking a gastroscopy is recommended.

  1. Recurring heartburn or vomiting
  2. Pain in the upper abdomen
  3. Any other discomfort coming from the upper gut

Additionally, if you are above the age of 40 and have a family history of stomach ailments, regular check-ups are recommended to prevent the development of serious illnesses such as cancer.

B. What Is Gastroscopy And Do I Need It?

A gastroscopy is a diagnostic procedure that involves the insertion of a tiny camera through the mouth into the patient’s oesophagus and stomach to the start of the small intestine.

Going for a gastroscopy can help detect ulcers and bacteria that are in one’s body early, increasing the chances of a full recovery before the cancer progresses. As early stage cancer is less likely to show any symptoms or problems, the gastroscopy will aid in early detection and treatment. It can be used to rule out any serious illnesses and probe into the causes for certain symptoms such as nausea, prolonged cramping in the upper abdomen and difficulties faced swallowing. Learn more about the gastroscopy procedure today.

To have a discussion with Dr Ganesh, call our clinic today.

Healthy Aging: Protecting Your Digestive System Health

Healthy Aging- Protecting Your Digestive System Health

As we grow older, our digestive system – along with all the other systems and organs in our body – undergoes some changes. Older people are also much more susceptible to certain risks related to their digestive systems, such as stomach sensitivity to medications, a lowered ability to absorb vitamins and common digestive disorders like the ones mentioned earlier. Partially caused by the lowered production of stomach acid, digestive health risks and problems occur as a result of weakened muscles in the gastrointestinal tract. While some stomach problems can crop up on their own, there is a considerable number of diseases that occur as a result of medication.

How can you keep your digestive health on track as you age?

A. Eat A Balanced Diet & Stay Hydrated

Incorporating loads of fiber into your diet and keeping hydrated with plenty of water can ease constipation. Problems with bowel movements are extremely common with age. As you load up on liquids, be sure to avoid too many caffeinated drinks as they have the opposite effect on your body.

When you are older, you are less active as well. So, healthy meal portions and reduced fatty foods will help you maintain your weight as well as digestive health. For more information on what a balanced diet looks like, read more here.

B. Start Exercising

Exercising is one way you can keep your weight healthy. Taking a walk every morning or doing some simple stretching exercises can help improve your mobility and general health on top of reducing the chances of contracting chronic ailments.

Some simple exercises you can consider are: biking, walking, running, swimming and yoga. Exercising has all-round benefits – it improves blood circulation on top of keeping your digestive health in the pink.

C. Go For Regular Health Check-Ups

As you watch your diet and live a balanced lifestyle with regular exercise, it is important that you continue going for regular health check-ups with your physician. Regular health check-ups serve as a deterrent as they can help you detect the early signs of a stomach disease before it worsens.

Book An Appointment With G&L Surgical Clinic

Here at G&L Surgical, Dr Ganesh and the team are dedicated to helping all our patients receive holistic care and treatment. With dedicated awareness to the varying needs of our patients, we are able to provide high quality and individualised service.

Whether you are experiencing stomach-related digestive problems or simply want to get a check-up done, you can make an appointment with us.

If you have any questions, contact our team and we will get back to you.