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Otherwise termed as delayed gastric emptying, gastroparesis is a medical condition characterized by a partial paralysis of the stomach. This paralysis leads to the food remaining in the stomach for periods longer than normal. In normal circumstances, the stomach moves food down the duodenum by contracting to push its content down the gut a process controlled by the vagus nerve. When this nerve is damaged, it is possible for gastroparesis to occur as the muscles of the stomach and small intestines shall not be carrying out their duties in the right manner.
Signs and symptoms
- The key symptoms of gastroparesis are nausea and vomiting. Vomiting often occurs after meals. Sometimes, however, especially in severe gastroparesis, you may vomit even before taking in any food or fluids into the stomach. The cause of this is usually the accumulation of secretions inside the stomach. Since the stomach lacks the grinding action with this condition, the foods that you vomit will be in big chunks, and you can easily identify them.
- At other times, you may experience bloating which may sometimes be accompanied by abdominal distension. Again, you will notice that you get full quicker than the normal way a factor that could lead to weight loss.
- Abdominal pain is also another key symptom that you may present with if you have gastroparesis. The cause of the pain is however not clear.
- Poor blood sugar control is another symptom of the condition
- Heartburn too may accompany the condition.
Other than the sign and symptoms of gastroparesis, it is important to appreciate the diagnosis and the treatment.
There are many methods of diagnosing gastroparesis. The most typical of the methods is the gastric emptying study. This study measures the emptying of food from the stomach. Here, you eat food which has a small radioactive material in it. A scanner is then put on the region around the stomach for some time to monitor the amount of radioactivity that would be taking place inside the stomach. For patients with gastroparesis, the food usually takes a relatively long time to get into the small intestines compared to a normal individual.
Another method of diagnosis is anthro-duodenal motility study. This study is however considered experimental and cannot be used in some patients. It basically measures the pressure that results from the contraction of the muscles of the small intestines and the stomach.
There is a whole list of treatment of gastroparesis including diet, medication, as well as procedures which facilitate emptying of the stomach. The treatments have myriad end goals which include providing a diet with foods that are emptied easily, controlling the conditions which are known to aggravate gastroparesis, relieve the symptoms as well as maintaining adequate nutrition.
On a diet, emptying occurs faster when there is not much food in the stomach, and as such, it is urged that you take smaller portions though at shorter intervals. Besides, softer foods tend to require less grinding. It is important to note that fats trigger the body to release certain hormones that are an impediment to stomach emptying. As such, you should look to the direction of foods with low-fat content. Also, diets not so rich in fiber are recommended. Fiber is known to be responsible for the formation of bezoars as well as critical in slowing down the process of stomach emptying.
The above are some of the symptoms of gastroparesis together with its diagnosis and treatment. A comprehensive appreciation of the condition will take you a long way in managing it.