With August being Gastroparesis Awareness Month, I decided to conduct some research on the disease to help identify causes, symptoms, and treatments for those interested.
What is gastroparesis? Gastroparesis is a very rare condition that affects the movement of muscles in your stomach. Typically, strong muscles carry food through your digestive tract. But someone with gastroparesis may have difficulty with digestion as their muscles have slow motility, or no motility at all, preventing the stomach from adequately emptying. In addition to difficulty with digestion, gastroparesis may cause nausea and vomiting and cause problems with blood sugar levels and nutrition. More symptoms of gastroparesis include: feeling full after only a few bites, vomiting undigested food eaten a few hours prior, acid reflux, abdominal bloating/pain, lack of appetite, and weight loss.
While the cause of gastroparesis is not clear, it is believed that it may be caused by damage to a nerve that controls the stomach muscles. There are risk factors that may increase one’s risk of gastroparesis, which include: diabetes, abdominal/esophageal surgery, infection (virus), medications (such as narcotic pain medications), scleroderma, nervous system diseases (such as Parkinson’s), and hypothyroidism. Women are also more likely to be affected by the disease than men.
Individuals with gastroparesis can have many other complications as well. Severe dehydration comes with ongoing vomiting, which is a symptom of this disease. Malnutrition is another obvious complication as some may have difficulty digesting and retaining foods properly. Blood sugar drops and spikes are other serious complications involved with the illness.
There are medications that help stimulate the stomach muscles, which would aid digestion. These medications include metoclopramide (Reglan) and erythromycin. Additionally, drugs that control nausea and vomiting may help alleviate these symptoms of the disease as well. Changes in diet may also help with symptoms of gastroparesis.
If you suspect that you may have gastroparesis, or if you experience the symptoms stated above, don’t hesitate to talk with your doctor. Though there is no cure, there are options to help treat the symptoms of the illness.
About the Author
Chelsea Woods has a Master’s degree in special education and is an Educational Diagnostician. Her passion is children, particularly children with special needs. Chelsea has been married to her husband Dylan for 6 years, and they have two girls, Kamdyn, five, and Emersyn, one. She enjoys time with her church family, working in their garden, and taking vacations and making memories as a family.