Gastroparesis: A Mysterious Stomach Disorder You Should Know Of

The month of August is observed as the Gastroparesis Awareness Month. Gastroparesis is a condition that occurs when your stomach is unable pass down food to the small intestine. It is caused due to the damage to the vagus nerve, which regulates the digestive system. This nerve prevents the stomach muscles and intestine from functioning properly, thereby causing poor movement of food through the digestive system.

What Are The Causes Of Gastroparesis?

The causes of gastroparesis include:

1. Uncontrolled diabetes
2. Parkinson's disease
3. Multiple sclerosis
4. Injury to the vagus nerve post a gastric surgery

gastroparesis causes

What Are the Symptoms of Gastroparesis?

The signs and symptoms of gastroparesis are the following:

1. Vomiting undigested food
2. Heartburn
3. Nausea
4. Feeling full very quickly while eating
5. Poor appetite and weight loss
6. Low blood sugar levels
7. Abdominal pain

What Are The Risk Factors Of Gastroparesis?

Factors that can increase the risk of gastroparesis are:
1. Diabetes
2. Abdominal surgery
3. Viral infection
4. Scleroderma
5. Hypothyroidism
6. Nervous system diseases

Diagnosis Of Gastroparesis

Your doctor will first review your medical history and the symptoms. Based on them, the doctor will perform a physical examination and take some blood tests.

Other tests used to diagnose this condition include:

  • Barium X-ray - The patient will have to drink something called a barium liquid (barium powder mixed with water) which coats the lining of the oesophagus, stomach and small intestine. The X-ray shows the abdominal wall lining, size, shape, contour, and patency which help in accurate diagnosis of the condition.
  • Gastric manometry - A thin tube is inserted through the mouth and into the stomach. This helps in measuring the stomach's electrical and muscular activities to determine the rate of digestion.
  • Electrogastrography - This test measures the myoelectrical activity inside the stomach through electrodes placed on the abdominal skin. The recording obtained through this is called the electrogastrogram.
  • Upper endoscopy - This is done by inserting a thin tube known as the endoscope down the oesophagus to examine the oesophagus, lining of the stomach and the upper part of the small intestine.

Treatment Of Gastroparesis

Treatment can be done with the help of medications such as metoclopramide (to reduce nausea and vomiting), erythromycin, and other antiemetics. These are prescribed to gastroparesis patients to help the food pass to the small intestine and regulate the digestion.

Surgical treatment is done when people with gastroparesis are unable to tolerate any food or liquids. Doctors recommend a feeding tube to be placed in the small intestine. The feeding tube is usually temporary and is only used when the condition is severe or when blood sugar levels can't be controlled.

Researchers are continuing to come up with new medications to treat gastroparesis.

Gastroparesis Diet: Foods To Eat And Avoid

If you are suffering from gastroparesis, it's really important to focus on getting ample amount of nutrition that you require while eating small, frequent meals that are low in fat and easy to digest.

These Are The Foods You Should Eat:

1. Natural homemade fruit juice
2. Vegetable juice like spinach, carrots and kale
3. Peanut butter
4. Bananas
5. Refined breads, crackers and hot cereals
6. Eggs
7. Fruit purées
8. Well-cooked vegetables and fruits
9. Soups and broths
10. Potatoes and sweet potatoes without skin
11. Custard
12. Reduced-fat cottage cheese
13. Ground meat
14. Low-fat milk
15. Plain yogurt
16. Shellfish
17. Poultry without skin

These Are The Foods you should Avoid:

1. Beans and legumes
2. Corn
3. Alcohol and carbonated beverages
4. Nuts and seeds
5. Broccoli and cauliflower
6. Heavy cream
7. Cheese
8. Excess oil or butter
9. Junk and fried foods

Note: Foods that are high in fibre and saturated fat should be eaten in moderation as they take a longer time to digest.

Diet Tips For Gastroparesis

  • It is recommended to eat small meals five to eight times every day.
  • Chew your food properly before swallowing it.
  • Consume nutritious foods and nutritious drinks like fruit and vegetable smoothies, yogurt smoothies, protein shakes and liquid meal replacement shakes that are easy to digest.

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    Read more about: health symptoms
    Story first published: Friday, August 17, 2018, 13:08 [IST]
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