gastroparesis

Gastroparesis: Symptoms, Treatments & More

January 9, 2019


Receiving a medical diagnosis comes with many thoughts: How did this happen? What does it mean? How will your life change? Is there anything you can do to make things better?

In aims of helping gastroparesis patients better understand their condition, below is an overview of the illness, how to recognize early symptoms, and lifestyle changes to improve your quality of life.

What is Gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis is a chronic condition that doesn’t allow the stomach to fully empty itself during digestion. As a result, a patient will experience discomfort, nutritional deficiencies, electrolyte imbalance, and dehydration.

Gastroparesis Symptoms

The symptoms of gastroparesis are similar to what a person deals with when undergoing digestive issues, such as:

  • Feeling full after only taking a few bites of food
  • Acid reflux
  • Heartburn
  • Belching
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Chronic abdominal pain
  • Burning sensation in stomach
  • Loss of appetite

In many patients, the feeling of nausea is ever present, and it intensifies a few hours after eating a meal. When the person throws up, a lot of the food that is vomited is easily recognizable since the body has not digested it.

Gastroparesis Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing gastroparesis involves evaluating your symptoms, medical history, blood tests, or any of the following:

  • Ultrasound
  • Endoscopy
  • Gastric Manometry (to measure your stomach’s electrical and muscular activity)
  • Gastric Scintigraphy (gastric emptying can)

Your medical provider may also recommend diet modifications (as explained below). It’s important to note that while these meal changes will help alleviate gastroparesis symptoms for some patients, others continue to experience the same level of discomfort. If symptoms are not relieved, your doctor may prescribe medication and/or suggest introducing a feeding tube or electrical stimulation to trigger movement of stomach muscles.

Home Remedies for Gastroparesis

A relatively simple way to alleviate the symptoms of gastroparesis is to eat more frequent, smaller meals instead of three large ones (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). In addition, chew for longer periods to ensure that you’re breaking down food as much as possible before swallowing. Also, avoid laying down for at least three hours after a meal.

As for the foods that you actually eat, keep in mind the following recommendations:

Foods to Eat:

  • Low Fiber Foods
  • Soups
  • Smoothies
  • Canned fruit
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, or bananas

Foods to Avoid:

  • Dairy
  • Foods that are high in fat
  • Fast food
  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Raw vegetables
  • Nuts, seeds, and corn

Causes of Gastroparesis

Gastroparesis is often caused by damage to the vagus nerve, which controls the muscles in the stomach. Other causes include a history of gastric surgery, certain medications including antidepressants, viral infections, or amyloidosis.

Complications

When food remains in the stomach instead of being moved through the intestines, it’ll begin to ferment. This leads to bacterial growth. The food can also create blockages that prevent additional food from passing through the intestines.

Risk Factors

The most common risk factors for gastroparesis include:

  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • History of gastric surgery
  • Side effects from certain medications

Can Gastroparesis Be Reversed?

While there is no cure, it is possible to go into remission for years, so following a treatment plan can significantly improve your quality of life.

If you believe you may have Gastroparesis, let us help you.

At Pinnacle, we work with over 70 referring physicians in San Antonio and Austin, providing clinical trials for gastroparesis, among other health conditions.
Contact us to discuss how we can help you.