What is Gastroparesis?
Gastroparesis is a condition in which the stomach cannot fully empty itself of food. Normally, muscular contractions move food through the digestive tract, but with this condition, the stomach’s motility is slowed or doesn’t work. This prevents the stomach from emptying properly and can interfere with normal digestion.
Symptoms associated with gastroparesis may include:
- Acid reflux.
- Vomiting undigested food.
- Feeling full after a few bites of food.
- Abdominal bloating.
- Abdominal discomfort or pain.
- Weight loss.
If left untreated, this condition can lead to complications such as severe dehydration, malnutrition, erratic blood sugar levels or the formation of solid masses called bezoars. If you or your child is experiencing any of the above symptoms, please contact South Denver GI to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians.
How is Gastroparesis Diagnosed?
The exact cause of this condition is often unknown, though it is sometimes caused by damage to the vagus nerve, or the nerve that contracts stomach muscles to help move food through the digestive tract. It may also be a complication of diabetes, surgery or certain medications. In order to diagnose this condition, your doctor will speak with you regarding your symptoms, perform a physical exam and recommend some testing. There are many different tests that can help your doctor gather the information he or she needs to make a diagnosis, which may include blood tests, X-rays, ultrasound, upper endoscopy, scintigraphy, breath tests and more.
Treatment Options for Gastroparesis?
While there is no cure for gastroparesis, there are options for relieving symptoms. Your doctor may recommend the following choices:
Making changes to the way you eat may be helpful in controlling gastroparesis symptoms. For example, eating small meals throughout the day, eating low residue foods and avoiding foods that are high in fat and fiber are recommended. Your doctor may recommend you see a dietician to help you with the diet changes required for the best results.
Your doctor may prescribe certain medications to stimulate the stomach muscles, such as Reglan or erythromycin. Antiemetics may also be prescribed to help control nausea and vomiting.
Some individuals with gastroparesis cannot tolerate any food or liquid. In these cases, a feeding tube may be placed in the small intestine, or a gastric venting tube may help to relieve pressure from excess air in the stomach.
Gastric electrical stimulation may also be an option for those who do not benefit from medication. This procedure sends mild electrical shocks to the stomach muscles to control vomiting.
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At South Denver GI, our team of physicians and advanced practice providers have the expertise to provide you with outstanding care. If you would like to learn more about Gastroparesis or need to schedule an appointment at our office, contact us today!
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