Disease: Gastroparesis


    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. For people who already have gastroparesis, these medications may make their condition worse.

    Gastroparesis can interfere with normal digestion, cause nausea and vomiting, and cause problems with blood sugar levels and nutrition. The cause of gastroparesis is usually unknown. Sometimes it's a complication of diabetes, and some people develop gastroparesis after surgery. Although there's no cure for gastroparesis, changes to your diet, along with medication, can offer some relief.

    Gastroparesis care at Mayo Clinic

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    Signs and symptoms of gastroparesis include:

    • Vomiting
    • Nausea
    • A feeling of fullness after eating just a few bites
    • Vomiting undigested food eaten a few hours earlier
    • Acid reflux
    • Abdominal bloating
    • Abdominal pain
    • Changes in blood sugar levels
    • Lack of appetite
    • Weight loss and malnutrition

    Many people with gastroparesis don't have any noticeable signs and symptoms.

    When to see a doctor

    Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    It's not always clear what leads to gastroparesis. But in many cases, gastroparesis is believed to be caused by damage to a nerve that controls the stomach muscles (vagus nerve).

    The vagus nerve helps manage the complex processes in your digestive tract, including signaling the muscles in your stomach to contract and push food into the small intestine. A damaged vagus nerve can't send signals normally to your stomach muscles. This may cause food to remain in your stomach longer, rather than move normally into your small intestine to be digested.

    The vagus nerve can be damaged by diseases, such as diabetes, or by surgery to the stomach or small intestine.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    Doctors use several tests to help diagnose gastroparesis and rule out conditions that may cause similar symptoms. Tests may include:

    • Gastric emptying study. This is the most important test used in making a diagnosis of gastroparesis. It involves eating a light meal, such as eggs and toast, that contains a small amount of radioactive material. A scanner that detects the movement of the radioactive material is placed over your abdomen to monitor the rate at which food leaves your stomach.

      You'll need to stop taking any medications that could slow gastric emptying. Ask your doctor if any of your medications might slow your digestion.

    • Upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy. This procedure is used to visually examine your upper digestive system — your esophagus, stomach and beginning of the small intestine (duodenum) — with a tiny camera on the end of a long, flexible tube.This test can also diagnose other conditions, such as peptic ulcer disease or pyloric stenosis, which can have symptoms similar to those of gastroparesis.
    • Ultrasound. This test uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of structures within your body. Ultrasound can help diagnose whether problems with your gallbladder or your kidneys could be causing your symptoms.
    • Upper gastrointestinal series. This is a series of X-rays in which you drink a white, chalky liquid (barium) that coats the digestive system to help abnormalities show up.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    Gastroparesis can cause several complications, such as:

    • Severe dehydration. Ongoing vomiting can cause dehydration.
    • Malnutrition. Poor appetite can mean you don't take in enough calories, or you may be unable to absorb enough nutrients due to vomiting.
    • Undigested food that hardens and remains in your stomach. Undigested food in your stomach can harden into a solid mass called a bezoar. Bezoars can cause nausea and vomiting and may be life-threatening if they prevent food from passing into your small intestine.
    • Unpredictable blood sugar changes. Although gastroparesis doesn't cause diabetes, frequent changes in the rate and amount of food passing into the small bowel can cause erratic changes in blood sugar levels. These variations in blood sugar make diabetes worse. In turn, poor control of blood sugar levels makes gastroparesis worse.
    • Decreased quality of life. An acute flare-up of symptoms can make it difficult to work and keep up with other responsibilities.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

    Alternative medicine

    There is some evidence that certain alternative treatments can be helpful to people with gastroparesis, although more studies are needed. Some treatments that look promising include:

    • Acupuncture and electroacupuncture. Acupuncture involves the insertion of extremely thin needles through your skin at strategic points on your body. During electroacupuncture, a small electrical current is passed through the needles. Studies have shown these treatments to ease gastroparesis symptoms more than a sham treatment.
    • STW 5 (Iberogast). This herbal formula from Germany contains nine different herbal extracts. It hasn't been shown to speed up gastric emptying, but was slightly better at easing digestive symptoms than a placebo.
    • Rikkunshito. This Japanese herbal formula also contains nine herbs. It may help reduce abdominal pain and the feeling of post-meal fullness.
    • Cannabis. There aren't any published clinical trials on cannabis and gastroparesis. However, cannabis — commonly known as marijuana — is thought to ease nausea and other digestive complaints. Derivatives of cannabis have been used by people who have cancer in the past, but there are better FDA-approved medications available to control nausea now.

      Because cannabis is often smoked, there's concern about possible addiction and harm, similar to what occurs with tobacco smoke.

      In addition, daily users of marijuana (cannabis) may develop a condition that mimics the symptoms of gastroparesis called cannabis hyperemesis syndrome. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Quitting cannabis may help.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

    Lifestyle and home remedies

    If you're a smoker, stop. Your gastroparesis symptoms are less likely to improve over time if you keep smoking.

    People with gastroparesis who are overweight are also less likely to get better over time.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

    Risk factors

    Factors that can increase your risk of gastroparesis:

    • Diabetes
    • Abdominal or esophageal surgery
    • Infection, usually a virus
    • Certain medications that slow the rate of stomach emptying, such as narcotic pain medications
    • Scleroderma (a connective tissue disease)
    • Nervous system diseases, such as Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis
    • Hypothyroidism (low thyroid)

    Women are more likely to develop gastroparesis than are men.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

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