The Basics of Gastroparesis

Do not write off your symptoms as indigestion or a lack of appetite if, after eating a very modest quantity of food, you discover that you are experiencing feelings of severe fullness or nausea or if you find that you are vomiting up after eating. These symptoms may indicate gastroparesis, a disorder affecting the digestive tract. Even though gastroparesis is difficult to cure, a specialized diet may assist in keeping the symptoms under control.

Defining Gastroparesis

According to Francisco J. Marrero, MD, a gastroenterologist at the Digestive Disease Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, says meals that a healthy individual may consume in approximately 4 hours and may take days to drain through the stomach of an individual with gastroparesis can take days to drain through the stomach of an individual with gastroparesis. Gastroparesis occurs when the vagus nerve, which is responsible for constricting the stomach and moving food farther up the digestive system, is damaged.

Approximately 10 out of every 100,000 persons have gastroparesis. Possible triggers for the ailment include −

  • Infection

  • Immune-mediated illness

  • Conditions affecting the nervous and muscle systems

  • Treatment with radiation

  • Diabetes

In most cases, gastroparesis caused by eating problems like bulimia and anorexia resolves itself once the patient resumes a regular diet. A medication's side effects may mimic the original condition, although they are typically very transitory.

One major risk factor for this gastrointestinal disorder is diabetes. Marrero believes that the anomalies in the neurological system brought on by long-term diabetes might emerge as loss of sensation and numbness in the fingers or even in the intestines. Over time, diabetics' high blood glucose levels might deteriorate the vagus nerve.

How to Recognize Gastroparesis

There are a few other signs to look out for besides being full too quickly and experiencing nausea and vomiting after eating. In addition to the aforementioned, other symptoms of gastroparesis include −

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) with heartburn

  • abnormally low body weight

  • Glucose levels that rise and fall constantly

  • The discomfort felt in the upper abdomen

Which patients are more prone to have gastroparesis?

Having gastroparesis increases in likelihood if you

  • affected by diabetes

  • Injury to the vagus nerve is possible if you have recently had surgery on your esophagus, stomach, or small intestine. Stomach and intestinal contractions are regulated by the vagus nerve.

  • Undergone cancer treatment that included radiation to the chest or stomach, for example

When someone has gastroparesis, what additional health issues can they face?

Some people who suffer from gastroparesis also struggle with conditions like

  • diabetes

  • scleroderma

  • migraines, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis are just a few of the neurological illnesses

  • hypothyroidism.

  • Amyloidosis

  • Oesophageal cancer

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

To what extent can gastroparesis lead to further health problems?

Among the potential side effects of gastroparesis are the following −

  • Constant vomiting may cause a loss of fluids, which might potentially result in mortality. This condition is known as dangerously low blood fluid levels.

  • If you don't have much of an appetite, you may not eat enough to satisfy your caloric demands, or you could vomit up those calories before they're absorbed into your body. Both of these scenarios can lead to malnutrition.

  • A bezoar is a solid mass that forms in the stomach from food that has not been digested. This may cause food to get hardened and become lodged in the stomach. If a bezoar prevents food from entering the small intestine, it may result in excruciating nausea and vomiting and can cause death in extreme cases.

  • Unpredictable changes in blood sugar levels or Variations in the pace and volume of food moving into the small intestine due to gastroparesis might produce irregular changes in blood sugar levels, even though gastroparesis does not cause diabetes. This is due to the fact that gastroparesis slows down the movement of food into the small intestine. These fluctuations in blood sugar make diabetes more difficult to manage. Inadequate control of glucose levels, in turn, makes symptoms of gastroparesis worse.

How to Manage Gastroparesis

Unfortunately, gastroparesis is difficult to treat and manage and incurable. But relief from symptoms and pain is possible with the right therapy. Among the available treatments are the following −


A wide variety of drugs may help with the digestive process and speed up the movement of food through the stomach. Drugs like erythromycin and metoclopramide, which stimulate the stomach, are two such examples (Reglan, Maxolon). Tolerance to the antibiotic may develop very quickly, and metoclopramide may produce serious ill effects. According to him, anti-nausea medication is getting more and more prescriptions from medical professionals.

Altering what you put into your body

Alterations to one's diet are among the most effective methods for managing the symptoms of gastroparesis. If you have gastroparesis, you may discover that eating many smaller meals throughout the day, rather than three larger ones, provides you with some much-needed respite. People who are dealing with severe diseases can find that switching to a liquid or pureed diet helps them better control their symptoms. A meal that is heavy in fiber and high in fat should both be avoided since the gastroparesis diet recommends this.

Ingestion using a feeding tube

Patients suffering from severe cases may need the insertion of a tube into the small intestine in order for them to be able to keep their nutrients down. Nutritional value is improved, and pain is decreased when the slow-emptying stomach is bypassed, and the small intestine is fed straight via a tube (this procedure is called a jejunostomy).

Stimulator of the stomach electrically

This little device, once surgically implanted, will begin emitting very small electrical pulses, and it is hoped that this will help ease nausea and vomiting that the patient is experiencing. However, according to Marrero, Despite their high price tag, not all people with gastroparesis will get relief from their symptoms by using one of these devices.

Having gastroparesis is a challenging illness to handle, and it may make eating a painful and challenging experience. Although there is no one particular way to cure gastroparesis, there are several options to consider. Your doctor's treatment recommendation for gastroparesis will depend on the severity of your symptoms and the level of pain and discomfort they produce.

Updated on: 02-Feb-2023


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