Gastroparesis is a medical condition in which the muscles of the stomach don’t work properly, causing food to move through the digestive system more slowly than it should. This can lead to a number of symptoms, including:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal bloating and pain
- Heartburn or acid reflux
- Unintended weight loss
- Feelings of fullness after only a few bites of food
- Blood sugar fluctuations in people with diabetes
The exact cause of gastroparesis is not always clear, but it can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Diabetes: High blood sugar levels can damage the nerves that control the muscles in the stomach, leading to gastroparesis.
- Idiopathic: In some cases, the cause of gastroparesis is unknown, and it is referred to as idiopathic gastroparesis.
- Surgeries: Certain surgeries, such as those for gastric bypass or removal of part of the stomach, can cause gastroparesis.
- Infections: Infections, such as viral infections, can damage the nerves in the stomach and cause gastroparesis.
- Medicines: Certain medications, such as opioids, can slow down the muscles of the stomach and cause gastroparesis.
Gastroparesis can be diagnosed through a number of tests, including a medical history, physical examination, blood tests, upper endoscopy, and a test called gastric emptying study, which measures the time it takes for food to move through the stomach.
Treatment for gastroparesis involves a combination of dietary changes, medications, and, in severe cases, surgery. This may include changes to the texture and consistency of food, eating small, frequent meals, and avoiding foods that are high in fat and fiber. Medications that help to regulate the contractions of the stomach muscles, and promote the emptying of food from the stomach, can also be helpful. In severe cases, a gastric electrical stimulation device, or a gastrostomy tube, may be necessary to provide nutrition and relieve symptoms.
If you are experiencing symptoms of gastroparesis, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.