GASTROPARESIS

Gastroparesis is a disorder that occurs when the stomach takes too long to empty food which is a result of weak or abnormal muscles in the stomach. There’s no known cure, but medical treatment can help you manage your symptoms.

The symptoms of gastroparesis can range from mild to severe which can include:

  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excess gas
  • Bloating
  • Changes in your blood sugar levels
  • Feeling full after only eating a little
  • Malnutrition
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Swollen abdomen

DIAGNOSIS

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, which might include:

  • Ultrasound,
  • X-ray
  • An upper endoscopy

Once your doctor has ruled out other possible causes of your symptoms, they will order tests that can confirm if you have gastroparesis which can include:

  • A gastric emptying scintigraphy test.
  • A Smart Pill, which is a capsule that contains a device to track how fast food moves through your digestive tract.

If your gastroparesis is caused by a condition like diabetes, the first step is to improve control of that underlying condition

 

RECOMMENDED MEDICATIONS

Medicines like prochlorperazine (Compro) and diphenhydramine (Benadryl) are often given to control nausea and vomiting caused by gastroparesis.

Medicines like metoclopramide (Reglan) and cisapride (Prepulsid, Propulsid) stimulate the stomach muscles and help with digestion.

Surgery

If your malnutrition or vomiting remains an issue even with the use of medicine, surgery may be necessary. The goal of surgery for gastroparesis is to help your stomach empty more effectively. Surgery could entail stomach stapling or a stomach bypass procedure.

Diet Changes

A dietitian will suggest foods that your body can digest more easily, allowing your body to absorb more nutrients. Your dietitian may suggest:

  • Eating well-cooked vegetables and fruit to lower the amount of fiber they contain
  • Eating mostly low-fat foods
  • Drinking water during your meal
  • Avoiding foods that have a lot of fiber, like broccoli and oranges
  • Eating smaller meals more often

Severe cases of gastroparesis wherein eating solid food or drinking liquids is difficult, a feeding tube may be necessary until your condition improves.

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