Abdominal Pain in the Elderly

Abdominal pain is also a common complaint in the elderly (7,8). Information is less widely available on the epidemiology of pain in this sector of the population. Yet clearly, abdominal pain has an impact on the lives of older people in a fashion similar to their younger counterparts. In a study of 70-year-olds, epigastric pain was the most commonly cited location and over half of the participants were affected in their ability to work or carry out daily activities due to abdominal pain (8). In a survey of 65- to 93-year-olds, one-fourth complained of frequent abdominal pain. A diagnosis of functional abdominal pain is difficult to make in the elderly as organic diseases are more common. Also, elderly people may have coexisting illnesses or be on medications that have gastrointestinal (GI) side effects. Thus the actual proportion of the elderly with functional abdominal pain is not known.

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