DR. ISLAM: Aging, GI issues and medicationsDr. Rafiul Sameer Islam was born in Malone, N.Y., but grew up in his hometown of Odessa. He completed both his medical degree and masters of business association. Call his office at 806-761-0747 to schedule an appointment or visit his website www.sameerislam.com.

As we continue our topic of GI health and aging we will discuss how medications may affect us. We are much more likely to be taking multiple prescription medications in our later years and many of them can cause problems.
NSAIDS, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, like Advil and Aleve are great for arthritis aches and pains but can also cause reflux and ulcers. Acid reflux is when stomach acid rises from the stomach into the esophagus causing a burn like feeling in the chest.
High blood pressure medicines called calcium channel blockers may worsen reflux. Antibiotics are also known to cause some GI upset. For minimal reflux, medications like TUMS may improve your symptoms but for prolonged reflux, (more than once a week) you may need other medications to control your symptoms. Talk with your doctor about what helps and worsen your symptoms to see what treatment is right for you.
Constipation is something we all want to avoid. But unfortunately it is something that becomes all too common as we age. The colon is a smooth muscle that moves stool in a wave like movement called peristalsis. As we age we lose muscle mass and tone which can slow peristalsis and worsen constipation.
Medications including iron, antihypertensives and anticholinergics for gout can cause constipation. We are more likely to use narcotics and pain medications as we age which can slow peristalsis to a complete halt. Activity, increased fluid intake and high fiber diets will all to help keep you move more regularly. Medications like stool softeners and even gentle laxatives may be need to be a part of your daily routine. Your doctor can help you determine the best medications and treatments to keep you moving.
Antibiotics not only can cause reflux but may also cause diarrhea. If you are having diarrhea due to medications you can try a BRAT diet of banana, rice, applesauce and toast to ease your gut. Increase fluids including Gatorade to help keep you from getting dehydrated. There are over the counter antidiarrheals to take for worsening symptoms.
Always tell your doctor all the medications you take, even over the counter medications and vitamins. Persistent GI symptoms should be treated by your doctor and not self treated with over-the-counter fixes.
Sameer Islam, MD is a board-certified Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist practicing at Southwest Gastroenterology in Lubbock, Texas. For an appointment feel free to contact his office at (806)-761-0747. You can get more information from his webpage (www.sameerislam.com).