Gastroparesis – A Comprehensive Overview
What is Gastroparesis?
It is an incurable condition wherein the muscles present in the stomach fails functioning normally. Typically, strong contractions of muscles propel the food through our digestive tract. However, in gastroparesis, your muscles positioned in the stomach wall do not work at all or works poorly. The condition tends to interfere with normal digestion, causing vomiting and nausea and problems with nutrition and blood sugar levels.
Changes in diet can help coping with the symptoms of gastroparesis, however, that’s not the solution always. Medications of gastroparesis offer bit relief, however few tends to cause great side effects.
What are the symptoms of Gastroparesis?
Its common symptoms include:
- Abdominal bloating.
- After consuming few bites, you may feel full.
- Appetite loss.
- Weight loss.
- Changes in your blood sugar levels.
What causes Gastroparesis?
What causes gastroparesis is a mystery till date however in numerous cases, it is considered to be triggered by the damage of a nerve responsible for controlling your stomach muscles (known as vagus nerve).
More specifically, in a digestive tract, all complex processes are managed by the help of vagus nerve, including signaling of muscles for contracting the food and pushing it into our small intestine. However, damaged vagus nerves become unable sending the signals to the stomach muscles resulting the food to stay in the stomach for a prolong period of time, rather moving it into the small intestine for digestion. Damage to the vagus nerve is caused by certain diseases for example diabetes, or due to the surgery of small intestine or stomach.
What are the risk factors of Gastroparesis?
Certain factors which tend to create difficulty for the stomach to get empty include:
- Abdominal surgery.
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Specific cancer treatments.
- Few drugs that slow your stomach emptying rate, for example antidepressants and narcotic pain drug.
What are the possible complications of Gastroparesis?
The condition can lead serious health complications for example:
- Overgrowth of bacteria in your stomach.
- Blood sugar fluctuations.
- Undigested food which stays in the stomach and hardens.
How is Gastroparesis diagnosed?
In order to diagnose gastroparesis, the doctors use certain tests. The tests will not just help diagnosing the condition, but will also rule out any other condition that was causing the similar symptoms of gastroparesis. The tests include:
- Through a scope, the doctor will see inside the stomach.
- Observing the time your stomach takes to empty itself.
How is Gastroparesis treated?
Its treatment starts with identifying the causal condition and treating it. Other treatment options of gastroparesis are:
- Changes in diet: a dietitian can help you identify foods which you can easily digest, whilst provides you with needed nutrients and calories.
- Medications: for controlling vomiting and nausea and for stimulating your stomach muscles.
In case gastroparesis fails responsing to changes in diet and medications, the doctor can suggest gastroparesis surgery.