Your stomach is a muscular sac about the size of a small melon that expands when you eat or drink to hold as much as a gallon of food or liquid. Once your stomach pulverizes the food, strong muscular contractions peristaltic waves push the food toward the pyloric valve, which leads to the upper portion of your small intestine duodenum. Gastroparesis is a condition that affects the normal spontaneous movement of the muscles motility in your stomach. Ordinarily, strong muscular contractions propel food through your digestive tract. But if you have gastroparesis, your stomach's motility is slowed down or doesn't work at all, preventing your stomach from emptying properly. Certain medications, such as opioid pain relievers, some antidepressants, and high blood pressure and allergy medications, can lead to slow gastric emptying and cause similar symptoms.
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Gastroparesis is a disorder that occurs when the stomach takes too long to empty food. This disorder leads to a variety of symptoms that can include nausea, vomiting, feeling easily full, and a slow emptying of the stomach, known as delayed gastric emptying.
Gastroparesis can be due to a variety of issues. Other problems such as the stomach being overly sensitive to signals from the nervous system and the stomach not being able to react to a meal are believed to also have a role in this condition.
This is known as idiopathic. High blood sugar can damage nerves over time. Surgeries that involve the stomach or other digestive organs can also change signals to the stomach. About 13 percent of people with gastroparesis have the type known as postsurgical.
Other health conditions are also associated with gastroparesis but are less common. These include:. The symptoms of gastroparesis can range from mild to severe. They occur more often in some people than others. Your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask you questions about your medical history. In order to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms, your doctor will probably want to run some tests. These might include:. These tests can include a:. If your gastroparesis is caused by a condition like diabetes, the first step is to improve control of that underlying condition.
After that, your doctor may recommend medications, diet changes, and even surgery in some cases. However, these drugs can cause side effects. Talk with your doctor to weigh the pros and cons of each medication to find out which one is right for you. If your malnutrition or vomiting remains an issue even with the use of medications, your doctor may decide that surgery on your stomach is necessary. The goal of surgery for gastroparesis is to help your stomach empty more effectively.
A stomach stimulator known as a GES gastric electrical stimulator can be implanted into the stomach. Studies have shown that in the first year after this surgery, up to 97 percent of people with a GES have less nausea and vomiting and are able to gain weight.
The device may also improve life expectancy related to gastroparesis. Seeing a dietitian — an expert on food and nutrition — is a common part of treatment for gastroparesis. A dietitian can suggest foods that your body can digest more easily , allowing your body to absorb more nutrients. Your dietitian might make suggestions to you, such as:. If you have a severe case of gastroparesis, you might not be able to eat solid foods and drink liquids.
In this case, you may need a feeding tube until your condition improves. Quitting cigarette smoking can also be beneficial to your overall condition. Shop for multivitamins. Botulinum toxin type A is a toxin that reduces muscle activity. Injection of the medication into the pyloric sphincter muscle improved this condition in some studies.
However, due to contradictory results and the small size of most studies, scientists state that more research is needed before it can be recommended. The vagus nerve is important to digestion. In , research is underway to study the use of vagal nerve stimulation for people with gastroparesis.
This study is looking at the effectiveness of self-administered nerve stimulation twice a day. The hope is that vagal nerve stimulation will help reduce inflammation and nerve problems associated with gastroparesis.
The symptoms associated with gastroparesis, such as vomiting and decreased appetite, can cause dehydration and malnutrition. Dehydration and malnutrition can cause numerous problems, including:. Since gastroparesis causes food to stay in the stomach for too long, it can also cause an overgrowth of bacteria. The food can also harden into masses called bezoars that cause nausea, vomiting, and obstruction in the stomach. Managing blood glucose levels is essential for people with diabetes. Gastroparesis can make it harder to manage those levels.
If you suspect you have gastroparesis, talk to your doctor. If you do have gastroparesis, work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan based on your particular health needs. Foods that are easy to digest tend to be low in fiber. Fiber, while a healthy part of the diet, is the part of fruits, vegetables, and grains that…. Gastroparesis is a condition in which your stomach empties into your small intestine more slowly than it should. Gastroparesis can be triggered by an….
How long does it take to digest food? Find out all you need to know about digestion. A gastric emptying scan, or gastric emptying study or test, is an exam that uses nuclear medicine to determine how quickly food leaves the stomach.
Digestion problems can be uncomfortable and can disrupt your daily activities. Learn about common digestion problems such as food intolerances…. If you need to reset your intestinal tract, consider going on a low-fiber diet. Here's what you can and can't eat. Gastroparesis is a digestive disorder with a high incidence among people with long-standing diabetes. Read more about complications, treatment, and…. The digestive system is essential to helping your body break down food so it can retrieve nutrients and vitamins while also getting rid of waste….
There are a lot of different opinions about the optimal meal frequency. Some say that it is best to eat 5—6 small meals per day, while others disagree…. Gastroparesis occurs when the muscles in your stomach move slowly and can't empty food from the stomach normally. Causes Risk factors Symptoms Diagnosis Treatment Experimental treatments Complications Outlook If you buy something through a link on this page, we may earn a small commission.
How this works. Overview of gastroparesis. What causes gastroparesis? What are the symptoms of gastroparesis? How is gastroparesis diagnosed? How is gastroparesis treated? Experimental treatment options. What are the complications of gastroparesis? Gastroparesis Diet. Gastric Emptying Scan. Understanding Digestion Problems. Read this next. What Foods Are Easy to Digest? Medically reviewed by Saurabh Sethi, M. Medically reviewed by Kris Gunnars, BSc.
Can You Die From Gastroparesis? And How to Treat It.