What Are the Basics of Gastroparesis?

What is the definition of gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis means weakness of the muscles in stomach, in other words, the stomach can’t empty itself of food in a normal way.

People may develop gastroparesis after surgery, diabetes may also trigger gastroparesis. There’s no cures for gastroparesis, you can obtain some reliefs through changing diets along with medications.


What are the common causes of gastroparesis?

Although the cause of gastroparesis is usually unknown, the following causes may trigger it:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • Medications like narcotics and some antidepressants
  • Abdominal or esophageal surgery
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Infection, usually a virus
  • The damage or injury of vagus nerve
  • Amyloidosis
  • Scleroderma

What are the symptoms of gastroparesis?

There are many symptoms of gastroparesis, which include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss and malnutrition
  • Acid reflux
  • Poor blood sugar level
  • Feeling full after eating just a few bites
  • Heartburn or GERD


How to diagnose gastroparesis?

To diagnose gastroparesis, besides the normal physical exams or certain blood tests, other tests may include:

  • Radioisotope gastric-emptying scan (gastric scintigraphy): Eat a light meal containing a very small amount of radioisotope to show whether the food is diagested at a normal speed.
  • Ultrasound: Use high-frequency sound waves to produce images of structures within your body.
  • Gastric manometry: Pass a thin tube through mouth to the stomach to determine the rate of digestion.

  • Barium X-ray: This test is also called an upper GI (gastrointestinal) series or a barium swallow. Drink a liquid called barium, which can show the esophagus, stomach, and small intestines on X-ray.
  • The smart pill: It is a small electronic device that can be swallowed, thus sending back information about its traveling speed through the digestive system.
  • Electrogastrography: It is a test of measuring electrical activity in the stomach.
  • Upper endoscopy: Pass a thin tube down the esophagus to examine the lining of the stomach.


How to treat gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis is a long-lasting condition, which means treatments usually can’t cure the disease. But there are several things you can do to control it:

  • Medications: Some patients may benefit from two kinds of medications:
    Medications to stimulate the stomach muscles: Examples are metoclopramide (Reglan), erythromycin (Eryc, E.E.S.), etc.
    Medications to control nausea and vomiting: Examples are prochlorperazine (Compro), diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Unisom), ondansetron (Zofran), etc.
  • Change your diets: Suggestions include:
    Eat well-cooked fruits and vegetables rather than raw fruits and vegetables.
    Avoid fibrous fruits and vegetables like oranges and broccoli that may cause bezoars.
    Try soups and pureed foods that is easier to swallow.
    Avoid carbonated drinks, smoking and alcohol.
    Choose mostly low-fat foods.
    Drink about 34 to 51 ounces of water a day.
  • Surgeries: In severe cases of gastroparesis, feeding tube or jejunostomy tube may be used to feed patients with nutrients.

What is the prognosis of gastroparesis?

The prognosis of gastroparesis varies from person to person, some may recover within 12 months of initial symptoms, others may last over 2 years.

Gastroparesis can affect people of all ages, but the duration in children tends to be shorter and the symptoms tend to be milder than those in adults.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.