Abdominal Pain Among Older Adults

M. Bachir Tazkarji, MD, CCFP

Disclosures

Geriatrics and Aging. 2008;11(7):410-415. 

In This Article

Presenting Symptoms

When assessing older adults who have abdominal pain, health care providers should remember that chronological age may not fully reflect patients' physiological age. The overall health condition should be considered.[3]

Pain presentation in older adults may vary due to physiological changes, comorbidities, and polypharmacy. Difficulties with history-taking are often encountered; causes may be acute (delirium) or relate to coexisting morbidity (aphasia, dementia). Altered pain perception such as painless cardiac ischemia has been well described among older adults.[4] Screening the medications list for side effects and interactions can provide an important element in the diagnosis.

A full history of the abdominal pain is crucial, including the pain description and character, location, onset, radiation, severity, duration, alleviating and aggravating factors, and previous episodes. These are outlined in Table 1 .

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