Gastroparesis

What is gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis is a condition in which your stomach cannot empty itself of food in a normal fashion. It is caused by damage to the vagus nerve, which regulates the digestive system. Often, the cause of gastroparesis is unknown.

Causes
Symptoms
Treatment
Causes: 

Causes of gastroparesis can include:

  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Gastric surgery with injury to the vagus nerve
  • Medications such as narcotics and some antidepressants
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Rare conditions such as: Amyloidosis (deposits of protein fibers in tissues and organs) and scleroderma (a connective tissue disorder that affects the skin, blood vessels, skeletal muscles, and internal organs)
Symptoms: 

There are many symptoms of gastroparesis, including:

  • Heartburn or GERD
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting undigested food
  • Feeling full quickly when eating
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Poor appetite and weight loss
  • Poor blood sugar control
Treatment: 

Gastroparesis is a chronic (long-lasting) condition. This means that treatment usually doesn't cure the disease. But there are steps you can take to manage and control the symptoms of this condition.

Some patients may benefit from medications, including:

  • Reglan (metoclopramide): You take this drug before eating and it causes the stomach muscles to contract and move food along. Reglan also decreases the incidence of vomiting and nausea. Side effects include diarrhea, drowsiness, anxiety, and, rarely, a serious neurological disorder.
  • Erythromycin: This is an antibiotic that also causes stomach contractions and helps move food out. This is intended for short term use only. Side effects include diarrhea and development of resistant bacteria from prolonged exposure to the antibiotic.
  • Antiemetics: These are drugs that help control nausea.
  • Change in eating habits, ie. Smaller and more freqeunt meals, limiting intake of high fiber items that are more difficult to digest, etc.
  • Strict blood glucose control in diabetic patients.