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First of two parts reviewing - Malnutrition in older people - this week - Causes

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Malnutrition in older people (Part 1)


Causes of Malnutrition

  • Reduced intake: Poor appetite due to illness, food aversion, nausea or pain when eating, depression, anxiety, side effects of medication or drug addiction
  • Diminished sensory ability: Taste changes, less smell perception, hard of hearing, reduced appetite
  • Inability to eat: This can be due to restrictions imposed by surgery or investigations, reduced levels of consciousness; confusion; difficulty in feeding oneself due to weakness, arthritis, or other conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease, poor swallow, vomiting, painful mouth conditions, poor oral hygiene, or dentures
  • Gut: Changes in the gut micro flora can affect digestion and absorption of nutrients. With a reduced immune system there may be bacterial overgrowth in the gut, or conversely, the use of antibiotics may reduce the beneficial gut flora, leading to diarrhoea or constipation (probiotics such as acidophilus may help counteract this). With the ageing process there is also reduced efficiency of motility of gut muscle.
  • Drug Use: Drugs can affect the absorption and metabolism of some nutrients. As a population older people use a large percentage of prescribed medication. Clinical effects of these drugs on an already less efficient metabolism can be loss of appetite and taste changes from chemotherapy and analgesics, or specific nutrient interactions, for example hypokalaemia with loop diuretics and hypocalcaemia from corticosteroids. Tetracycline and ciprofloxacin affect absorption of calcium and magnesium.
  • Lack of food availability: poverty; poor quality diet at home, problems with shopping and cooking
  • Impaired absorption: This can be due to medical and surgical problems effecting digestion
  • Altered metabolism: Increased or changed metabolic demands requirements related to illness e.g., cancer; surgery
  • Excess losses: Vomiting; diarrhoea; stomas; losses from naso-gastric tube and other drains or skin exudates from burns

Covid Booster Vaccine

If you are suffering from malnutrition, you may be at more risk from COVID-19. Ask your doctor if you are eligible for the next Covid 19 booster. Whelehans Pharmacy Pearse St have a weekly walk-in clinic for Covid-19 boosters. Call 0449334591 for more.


Convenient Flu Vaccination Service at Whelehans

Whelehans offer flu vaccine at our Pearse St and Clonmore store most days for adults and children. You can book online on the Whelehans Pharmacy website or ring either pharmacy. Flu vaccine is €25 (€20 if you book online) or free with medical or doctor visit card. It is free for older people and those with long term conditions and healthcare workers.


What is BPro Cardio Screen Service?

BPro Cardio Screen measures artery stiffness to identify risk of blockages and cardiovascular and circulatory disease. BPRo is placed like a watch on your wrist and is pain free. A pulse wave reads and calculates a wave signal that indicates the elasticity of large, small, and peripheral artery walls as well as tests for stress, central blood pressure, heart rate, and more. It is now €35 (was €50).  The next clinic is Saturday September 24th (from 9am to 5pm) at Whelehans Pearse St. Book online on the Whelehans Website or by calling Whelehans at 04493 34591.

To be continued…next week

Disclaimer: BPro Cardio is not an alternative to medical assessment; it can indicate risk of cardiovascular events but is not a diagnosis.


For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans, log on to or dial 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore). Email queries to Find us on Facebook.

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