Gastroparesis - Health Center


By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 29 September 2015 - 6:38 am IST

Gastroparesis – Basic Overview

Gastroparesis is a condition in which the stomach muscles do not work properly. As per Gastroenterologists, the stomach muscles are strong enough to contract in order to propel the food along the digestive system. However, in a person suffering from Gastroparesis, the muscles fail to work properly which prevents the stomach from emptying properly.

Gastroparesis tends to interfere with the digestion and can cause nausea and vomiting in some of the severe cases. This leads to abrupt problems with the blood sugar levels and the nutrient intake. There is no known cure for Gastroparesis. However, making changes in the diet plan are known to help cope up with the symptoms of the condition. Medications are known to offer relief but can lead to certain side effects.

Causes of Gastroparesis

The real reason behind Gastroparesis is unknown. However, in most cases, the condition is caused due to the damage to the nerve which controls the movements of the stomach muscles. The Vagus Nerve is known to manage the intricate process of digestion, including the initial signalling to the muscles of the stomach to contract and then push the food into the small intestine. However, a damaged nerve cannot send the signals to the stomach muscles to do the same.

This leads to the food to remain within the stomach without moving to the small intestine to be digested. The Vagus nerve can be damaged due to a variety of diseases such as diabetes or due to the surgery of the stomach or the small intestine.

Signs and Symptoms of Gastroparesis

The following are the major signs and symptoms of Gastroparesis:

1. Vomiting
2. Nausea
3. Feeling of fullness after a few bites
4. Bloating of the abdomen
5. Acid reflux and heartburn
6. Changes in the blood sugar level
7. Lack of appetite
8. Loss of weight and malnutrition

It is important to see a medical practitioner, if you have been experiencing any of the above mentioned signs or symptoms.

Tests and Diagnosis of Gastroparesis:

During the diagnosis of Gastroparesis, it is important to rule out the possibility of other conditions. The following tests are used for the diagnosis of Gastroparesis:

  1. Measuring the gastric emptying time: Measuring the gastric emptying time determines the time taken by the food to pass through the stomach. In some of the most common cases, a small amount of radioactive material is eaten along with the food. Then, a scanner is used in order to detect the movement of the food along the abdomen.
  2. Endoscopy: An upper endoscopy is done in order to rule out the conditions which may be causing the delay in the gastric emptying. With the help of an endoscopy, the doctor can transmit and view images of the stomach in order to evaluate the digestive system for signs of any abnormality.

Treatment and Drugs for Gastroparesis:

The treatment option for Gastroparesis is greatly dependent on the identification of the underlying condition by the Gastroenterologists.

Medical Practitioner may refer you to introduce changes in your diet by including foods which are easier to digest. The dietician may suggest you to try meals which are low in fibre and fats. Soups and pureed foods are preferred and oranges are avoided. Certain people who are too weak to tolerate any food are provided with a feeding tube known as Jejunostomy Tube.

Medications that control nausea and vomiting such as Compro, Unisom and Ativan are prescribed actively. Along with that, medications which stimulate the stomach muscles such as Reglan and Erythromycin are prescribed.

If no other treatment option has proved adequate gastroparesis surgery is recommended. During the surgery, the lower part of the stomach is bypassed in order to improve the stomach emptying.

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