Facts You Should Know About Gastroparesis

By | 2017-09-29T09:25:45+00:00 July 20th, 2015|Categories: Eating Disorders|Tags: , , |7 Comments

Gastroparesis (Gastro meaning stomach and paresis meaning partial paralysis) is a condition in which your stomach cannot empty itself of food in a normal fashion. It is caused by damage to the vagus nerve, which regulates the digestive system. Normally, the nerves on the stomach wall (vagus) sends a signal for contraction and the stomach empties itself. But when this nerve becomes damaged, the food cannot move ahead properly. Food movement eventually slows down or stops.

However, the causes of gastroparesis can include:

  • Uncontrolled diabetes (as high levels of blood glucose may effect chemical changes in the nerves)
  • Anorexia nervosa or Bulimia nervosa
  • Connective tissue diseases like Scleroderma
  • Gastric surgery with injury to the vagus nerve
  • Medications such as narcotics and some antidepressants
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Rare conditions such as: Amyloidosis (deposits of protein fibers in tissues and organs)

Symptoms:

  • Heartburn or GERD
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting undigested food
  • Feeling full quickly when eating
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Palpitation
  • Poor appetite and weight loss
  • Poor blood sugar control

What it can lead to:

  • Fluctuations in blood glucose due to unpredictable digestion times (in diabetic patients)
  • General malnutrition due to the symptoms of the disease (which frequently include vomiting and reduced appetite)
  • Stagnant food can solidify with time and form Bezoars causing intestinal obstruction.
  • Stomach infection due to bacterial growth in undigested food

Diagnosis:

  • Physical exam, blood test and sugar test
  • Barium X-ray : You drink a liquid (barium), which coats the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine and shows up on X-ray. This test is also known as an upper GI (gastrointestinal) series or a barium swallow. This would show the obstruction.
  • Ultrasound
  • Endoscopy

Treatment:

  • Dietary modifications (low-fiber diet and may be restrictions on fat and/or solids). Eating smaller meals, spaced two to three hours apart has proved helpful. Avoiding foods that cause the individual problems, such as pain in the abdomen, or constipation, such as rice or beef, will help avoid symptoms
  • Prokinetics like metoclopramide (Reglan, Maxolon, Clopra), cisapride (Propulsid)
  • Insulin dose adjustments
  • Stomach pacemakers
  • Botox injections
  • Antiemetics: These are drugs that help control nausea
  • Feeding tube, or jejunostomy tube

Gastroparesis is a tough disease to manage. The more informed you are about this condition, the better you will be able to handle it.

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About the Author:

Dr.Shikha Goel Bansal has a background in Oral and Maxillo-facial Pathology. She has been a blog writer for HHP on various syndromes and diseases for over 2 years. Currently working in a renowned Biologics company in Greater New York, she works on developing drugs and conducting Ph 2 and Ph 3 trials in US and Ex-US. Her expertise in scientific knowledge driven by a passion for social awareness makes her a great contributor to HHP.

7 Comments

  1. Rosalind Signorino July 20, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    My stomach was damaged wheb I wad a child I was hit by a car twice 6 mo’s apart. I strongly believe. My upper stomach bloats so it feels like it’s gas. What do I do?
    I’ve Had every test you name it and repeated, 3 endoscopy’s 4 hr gastric emptying. .The lists good on. .Idk what to do. . ?
    Please Help!
    Sincerley Thank You!

    • Shikhabansal
      Shikhabansal July 28, 2015 at 1:44 pm

      Dear Reader,

      Thanks for adding a comment. All that the HHP team recommends is to seek medical help in diagnosing the condition that you have. Once the appropriate diagnosis is made, the correct treatment can follow.

      I hope that the medical sciences will be providing the diagnosis soon.

  2. Emily July 21, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Sadly these facts don’t even touch on the half of what an individual can go through- I’ve had gastroparesis for 4.5 yrs and its left me with zero quality of life. Mine was from having a gastric bypass- I have a Jtube, constant bacterial infections, constant blood infections – I’m in hospital as much as I am home – I just finished a 2 month stay- I have dumping syndrome GERDS IBS I’m severely anemic- I cannot live a normal life – who wants to go there life eating through a feeding tube how not fair is that??? Constantly on Antibiotics – having Nurses at your house 7 days a wk – having a port – tgat got so infected it went into my heart and lungs – 11 Picc lines in just over 2 years why because they all got infected – this gastroparesis has caused blood clots in my leg, arm and lungs – having gastroparesis is like living with a 24hr a day 7 days a week stomach flu and it will Never Ever End and remember gastroparesis is not an illness that you wear on your face so please take that into consideration when you say “well you don’t look SICK”

    • Shikhabansal
      Shikhabansal July 28, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      Hi Emily,

      HHP members fully empathize with your situation. It’s just that so many people know so little about this debilitating condition that we needed to spread the awareness. This article and organization had no intention of underestimating the plight of people fighting against it. It’s just to let people know more and more about the condition so that they might seek help.

      Stay courageous and be hopeful. There is a lot of research underway for rare diseases and you never know what the future holds for us.

  3. Seemanchal July 27, 2015 at 10:20 am

    I love this site and the doctors working for it , enlightening me with there simple language

  4. Carissa Haston August 2, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    It’s Digestive Tract Paralysis Awareness Month (which includes gastroparesis) sponsored by the 501(c)(3) G-PACT which can help with patient support, resources, and education.
    Working with FDA and Genetic Alliance for a cure.

    I’ve had it 21 years and had to have a multi-visceral transplant as a result.

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