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BACKGROUND The prevalence of dyspepsia and the severity of reflux symptoms decreases with advancing age. We postulate that advancing age influences sensory function and this will be associated with a diminished symptom response to a standardized meal stimulus.Our aim was to assess the influence of age on visceral sensory function. METHODS Baseline gastrointestinal symptoms and anxiety and depression were assessed in 53 healthy volunteers using validated questionnaires. After an 8-h fast, subjects received 200 mL of a standardized enteral feeding solution every 5 min up to a cumulative volume of 800 mL. After each 200 mL drink, five key symptoms were assessed (fullness, abdominal pain, retrosternal/abdominal burning, nausea and regurgitation) using a standardized instrument on visual analogue scales (0-100). The cumulative symptom score across all symptoms was calculated. KEY RESULTS Fullness was the most prominent symptom reported (79.8 +/- 9.5) followed by nausea (14.9 +/- 4.9) and pain (9.8 +/- 4.5); these three items accounted for more than 90% of the overall symptom load. The cumulative pain and nausea scores during a standardized nutrient challenge were significantly and inversely correlated with age (r = -0.43, P = 0.002 and r = -0.28, P = 0.045). Subjects >60 years of age reported significantly lower pain and nausea scores (0.9 +/- 0.9, 4.5 +/- 3.9) than did subjects <40 years (22 +/- 11.9, P = 0.002; 29.3 +/- 12, P = 0.043). CONCLUSIONS & INFERENCES Symptom responses to a standardized nutrient challenge, in particular pain and nausea, are inversely correlated with age.


M Gururatsakul, R H Holloway, B Adam, T Liebregts, N J Talley, G J Holtmann. The ageing gut: diminished symptom response to a standardized nutrient stimulus. Neurogastroenterology and motility : the official journal of the European Gastrointestinal Motility Society. 2010 Mar;22(3):246-e77

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PMID: 19814772

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