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GastroparesisConditions
Overview

Gastroparesis is a condition where the coordinated stomach contractions that break down and propel food into the small intestine become weak or disorganized. This leads to improper and delayed stomach emptying, causing partially digested food to remain. This can result in various symptoms and complications, affecting your digestion and overall health.

Symptoms

Gastroparesis symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain after eating
  • Feeling full quickly (early satiety) even after eating a small amount of food
  • Heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Vomiting undigested food
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition due to nutrient absorption issues
  • Difficulty regulating blood sugar levels
  • Blockages formed from undigested food particles in the stomach
  • Weight loss
Testing

Diagnosing the cause of gastroparesis involves a detailed assessment of your symptoms. Your doctor will consider your medical history and may recommend tests like blood, stool, or breath testing. A dietitian's expertise can also help pinpoint contributing foods. Additional tests like ultrasound, CT scans, endoscopy, or colonoscopy might be needed to gather more information. 

Treatment

Gastroparesis often arises from long-standing diabetes, which damages the vagus nerve responsible for activating stomach contractions and food movement. Stomach surgery, medications like painkillers and antidepressants, and gastrointestinal infections can also contribute. Sometimes, the cause remains unidentified, but treatment can proceed regardless. 

Managing gastroparesis involves a multi-faceted approach. Our dieticians will help you adopt a gastroparesis-friendly diet that considers food texture, volume, and timing. Medications that enhance stomach contractions or control nausea might be prescribed, tailored to your needs and with minimal side effects. In severe cases, intravenous medication and occasional in-hospital care might be necessary for hydration and treatment. 

Advanced options like endoscopic myotomy (muscle cutting for easier emptying) or gastric electrical stimulation (stomach pacemaker) might be recommended for those with persistent symptoms despite medical therapy. If you have diabetes, maintaining your blood sugar through insulin, medication, and dietary adjustments can help minimize gastroparesis symptoms while supporting your overall health.