August is Gastroparesis Awareness Month.
Gastroparesis, also called delayed gastric emptying, is a disorder in which the stomach takes too long to empty its contents. Gastroparesis occurs when the vagus nerve is damaged and the muscles of the stomach and intestines do not work normally. Food then moves slowly or stops moving through the digestive tract. The most common cause of gastroparesis is diabetes; high blood glucose can damage the vagus nerve. However, many people have what is called idiopathic gastroparesis, meaning the cause is unknownand cannot be found even after medical tests. Symptoms of gastroparesis include:
- upper abdominal pain
- abdominal bloating
- not feeling hungry/early satiety
- abdominal spasms
- erratic blood glucose levels
- weight loss
- weight gain
Gastroparesis is diagnosed with tests such as x-rays, manometry and gastric emptying scans.
Gastroparesis can sometimes “hibernate” giving you relief from most symptoms once you find a management plan that works for you. This is called remission. However, you can flare up even if you are adhering to a strict gastroparesis diet and taking your medication regularly. There are many factors that can affect how you feel day to day:
- menstrual cycle
- other illnesses
- changes in activity levels
- changes in sleep patterns
- poor nutrition
- changes in medications or supplements
Treatment for gastroparesis includes dietary changes (see our Gastroparesis Diet for Delayed Stomach Emptying for examples of dietary changes here: Special Diets), oral medications, adjustments in insulin injections for people with diabetes, a jejunostomy tube, parenteral nutrition, gastric neuorstimulators, or botulinum toxin.
For more information and resources on gastroparesis visit: https://aboutgastroparesis.org/living-with-gastroparesis/gastroparesis-awareness-month.html