Even though there is no cure for gastroparesis, proper treatment is beneficial for managing the symptoms. Here is a brief overview about the treatment for this condition.
It is a common fact that the food we eat enters the stomach, where it is crushed and mixed with digestive juices, and is moved to the small intestine for digestion. Such movement of food is facilitated by the muscles of the stomach and the small intestine. If these muscles fail to work properly, this movement of food will get affected. The regular contraction of stomach muscles is controlled by the vagus nerve, and any damage to this nerve can affect the proper functioning of the stomach muscles. This results in slow movement of the food from the stomach to the small intestine. In some cases, there will not be any such movement. Such condition is called gastroparesis, which means partial paralysis of the stomach.
This is a medical condition with no cure. While in some patients, it appears intermittently, gastroparesis is a chronic condition in others. Diagnosis may sometimes become difficult, as the symptoms can be mistaken for a wide range of medical conditions. Ultrasound sonography and upper endoscopy are conducted, so as to rule out the possibility of any other medical condition, before confirming gastroparesis with tests, like gastric emptying scintigraphy, smart pill, and breath test.
Gastroparesis treatment is usually aimed at treating the underlying condition, and also to manage the symptoms. If diabetes is found to be the cause of gastroparesis, then it will be treated primarily. Apart from treating the cause, the doctor may also prescribe some medication to relieve symptoms, like nausea and vomiting. Some drugs will be aimed at stimulating the muscles of the stomach, so as to facilitate movement of food. The physician may also ask you to make some dietary changes, and start a suitable exercise regimen. They include eating smaller and frequent meals instead of large ones, avoiding foods rich in fat and fiber, and increasing the intake of fluids. If nothing works for the patient to relieve the symptoms, the doctor may suggest surgery.
Causes and Symptoms of Gastroparesis
In some cases, gastroparesis lasts for a short time, but in others, it can be a chronic condition. Chronic gastroparesis is often caused by diabetes, damage to the vagus nerve by abdominal surgery, and some autoimmune diseases, like Parkinson’s disease and fibromyalgia. Even viral infections, hypothyroidism, and gastroesophageal reflux disease are being linked to this condition. Transient (short-lived) gastroparesis can be caused by certain medication, like narcotics, and medical conditions, like anorexia nervosa and bulimia.
Some people develop this disease without any specific cause. Symptoms of gastroparesis include nausea (sometimes accompanied with vomiting of undigested food), stomach cramps, pain in the abdomen and bloating, heartburn, lack of appetite, weight gain or weight loss, and changing blood glucose levels. Studies show that, women are more prone to this condition, and this could be due to the action of hormones. Another possible cause is the slower rate of stomach emptying in women, as compared to men.
So, if you notice any of the symptoms of this condition, get it diagnosed and treated at the earliest. Those with this condition have to stick to the recommended diet and timely medication, so as to manage the discomfort and symptoms.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.