What is Gastroparesis?


Delayed gastric emptying (Gastroparesis) is a medical condition where your stomach either empties food from the stomach to the small intestine abnormally slowly, or prevents it from emptying completely. This happens even if there are no stomach or intestinal blockages. When you have gastroparesis, your stomach muscles do not work correctly or are much weaker than normal.

In this article, we’ll go into general information about gastroparesis If you are concerned about gastroparesis, contact your health care provider to discuss your symptoms.

How to Diagnose Gastroparesis

There are several ways your doctor will diagnose you with gastroparesis. This can be done by checking your medical history, performing a physical examination, assessing your symptoms, and performing medical tests.

Physical Examinations for Gastroparesis

A physical exam will consist of checking your blood pressure, temperature and heart rate. Checking for signs of dehydration and malnutrition. And also assessing the abdomen for abnormal sounds, tightness, or pain.

Lab Tests for Gastroparesis

Two different lab tests may be done by your doctor to diagnose gastroparesis. Blood tests can be done to show signs of dehydration, infection, inflammation, and malnutrition. Urine tests can show signs of diabetes, infection, dehydration, or kidney problems. 

Gastroparesis Symptoms

  • Loss of appetite 
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Heartburn
  • Constant “full” feeling in stomach
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Belching

Gastroparesis Medication

There are several medications that your doctor may prescribe you when you have been diagnosed with gastroparesis. Depending on the severity and cause of your gastroparesis the prescription will vary. The gastroparesis medications may encourage the stomach muscles to empty quicker, or they may help with pain from bloating and heartburn.

Gastroparesis Medications for Improving Gastric Emptying

  • Metoclopramide 
  • Domperidone
  • Erythromycin 

Gastroparesis Medications for Nausea and Vomiting Relief 

  • Ondansetron
  • Prochlorperazine
  • Promethazine
  • Bismuth Subsalicylate (over the counter)
  • Diphenhydramine (over the counter)
  • Mertazapine (antidepressant) 

Diabetic Gastroparesis

People with diabetes are at high risk of being diagnosed with gastroparesis. According to the Diabetes Care Community, it affects between 27% – 58% of people with type 1 diabetes, and 30% of people with type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar levels have a direct connection to gastroparesis. Gastroparesis is caused when there is damage to the vagus nerve. Damage to the vagus nerve can happen when blood sugar levels have been high for long periods of time. The movement of food through the digestive tract is at the responsibility of the vagus nerve, so if there is damage to the nerve, this process does not happen as normal.

Gastroparesis Surgery

There are many different treatment routes for gastroparesis. If medications do not provide relief for you, you may need to consider a surgical option. Surgery will often be the last option for people with gastroparesis, but is available in case of emergency situations where a patient is not responding to medication. The different types of gastroparesis surgery procedures are listed below. 

  • Pyloroplasty: widens the lower part of the stomach
  • Gastrostomy: small tube into the stomach to relieve excess air and fluid build up
  • Gastrojejunostomy: connects the stomach to the jejunum portion of small intestine
  • Gastrectomy: removal of part, or whole, of the stomach

The Bottom Line

Gastroparesis is a condition that is highly more prevalent in diabetic people. If you are diabetic, or want to test your Blood Glucose levels, contact Your Health Lab for an A1C test. If you are not diabetic, but believe you may suffer from gastroparesis, Your Health Lab can assist you with a blood test to determine your nutrition and hydration levels. Contact us today to inquire.

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