Gastroparesis Awareness Month only became a member of the U.S. National Health Observances Calendar in 2016. The goal of adding this disorder to the calendar was to encourage people who may have gastroparesis symptoms to consult their health care provider. The provider can help patients with diagnosis, treatment, management and preventive strategies.
What is gastroparesis? A lot of people may not have ever
heard of this word or just weren’t sure what it meant. Gastroparesis is a
stomach disorder and means delayed gastric emptying. It is considered a chronic
condition that slows or stops the movement of food from your stomach to your
What are the symptoms of people who experience it?
- Feeling full after starting a meal
- Feeling full long after eating a meal
- Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss and malnutrition
- Abdominal pain or bloating
- Changes in blood sugar levels
- Medical history
- Physical exam
- Blood tests
- Medical tests
- Tests to measure stomach emptying
- Upper GI
- Upper endoscopy
What are the causes?
- Diabetes is the most common cause of gastroparesis. This is due to damage to the vagus nerve that controls how food moves in your digestive system. The nerve gets damaged from high glucose levels.
- Other surgeries related to the esophagus, stomach or small intestine
- Radiation therapy to the chest or stomach area
- Medications that may slow down movement in your intestines, such as narcotics, antidepressants, high blood pressure medication and allergy medications
- Eating disorders, such as bulimia or anorexia
- Nervous system disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis
- Metabolic disorders
- Viral illnesses
- Unknown causes
What are the treatments?
- Diet change
- Eating smaller meals – 6 smaller meals instead of 3 larger ones
- Not eating fatty and high fiber foods
- Getting the right amount of nutrients, calories and liquids
- Lifestyle changes such as mild physical activity (walking, yoga) after a meal to stimulate digestion
- If caused from diabetes, better control of blood glucose levels
Although there is no cure for gastroparesis, your health
care provider can work with you to develop a plan to manage symptoms and reduce
the chances of complications.