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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Special Topics > Aging Changes in Organs, Tissues and Cells
      Category : Health Centers > Senior Health

Aging Changes in Organs, Tissues and Cells

Aging causes normal, gradual changes in the body's organs, tissues, and cells.

What is the information for this topic?

The changes caused by aging affect the entire body. These changes are readily apparent in areas such as the hair and skin. Unseen changes also occur in the internal organs, in tissues, and in cells. Organs are made up of tissue, and tissues are made up of cells. Aging is a process that affects each cell in the body. There are changes in the amount, type, and location of tissue in the body. For example, there is more fat in the central area of the torso and less muscle in the legs as a person ages.

The organs all slowly lose cells and some of their function. As the body ages, cells in all the tissues and organs of the body change. These cell changes affect the tissues and organs over time. Cells slowly lose the ability to divide and reproduce as easily. Fat is deposited into cells, tissues, and organs. This contributes to a loss of function over time. Tissues such as bone, muscle, and skin become much less elastic and stiffer. The membranes of the cells change, and cells are less equipped to absorb oxygen and release carbon dioxide and wastes.

The body has many extra cells. The kidneys, liver, heart, and brain do not need all of their cells to function well. This is why, at first, people may not notice that they are losing cells and function. When enough cells are lost, though, the organs are affected. In some people, this can happen fairly early. Because of changes in blood flow to the brain and heart, some people may notice changes in their ability to think or exercise beginning around the age of 50. Others do not notice these problems until they are much older. Any serious health problems can worsen or speed the decline in function.

Other factors that may affect how various organs of the body function include:

  • certain medicines
  • emotional or psychological stress, such as depression, or significant life changes
  • environmental factors, including exposure to toxins
  • genetics
  • level of physical activity level
  • physical stress, caused by illness or the environment
  • poor nutrition
  • smoking or alcohol use
  • As people age, they are less able to clear medicines from the body. This is mainly due to a decline in liver and kidney function. Drugs may stay in the body longer and cause more side effects. Because of changes in the liver, the breakdown of cholesterol in the blood also diminishes. This can lead to a buildup of cholesterol in the blood and blood vessels.

    There are ways to decrease or slow the effects of aging on organs, tissue, and cells. These include:

  • avoiding exposure to dangerous materials
  • avoiding smoking and alcohol
  • avoiding too much sunlight
  • eating properly
  • exercising regularly
  • getting enough rest
  • staying active socially, mentally, and emotionally
  • Author: James Broomfield, MD
    Reviewer: Adam Brochert, MD
    Date Reviewed: 09/25/01



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