What is Gastroparesis?
Gastroparesis is a condition in which the spontaneous movement of the muscles (motility) in your stomach does not function normally. Ordinarily, strong muscular contractions propel food through your digestive tract. But in gastroparesis, your stomach's motility works poorly or not at all. This prevents your stomach from emptying properly. 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. When this is the case, it's called idiopathic gastroparesis (IG). When people who have diabetes develop gastroparesis, it's called diabetic gastroparesis (DG). Some people develop gastroparesis after surgery or from autonomic neuropathy.
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, neuropathy or by surgery to the stomach or small intestine.
There is no cure for gastroparesis, but changes to your diet, along with medication, can offer some relief.
Signs and symptoms of gastroparesis include:
A feeling of fullness after eating just a few bites
Changes in blood sugar levels
Lack of appetite
Image Source: Blausen.com staff. "Blausen gallery 2014". Wikiversity Journal of Medicine. DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 20018762. (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons