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If you’ve been experiencing unexplained digestive discomfort, it’s worth looking into in case there is a chronic condition causing your symptoms. For example, gastroparesis is a condition that affects the normal spontaneous movement of your stomach muscles.
We’re here to explain what gastroparesis is, its symptoms, possible causes and treatment methods to help you find relief.
Normally, strong muscle contractions push food through your digestive tract. But if you have gastroparesis, your stomach's motility, or movement, is slowed down or doesn't work at all. This prevents your stomach from properly emptying.
Gastroparesis can hinder normal digestion, which can cause nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. It can also cause problems with your nutrition and impact your blood sugar levels.
While some people with gastroparesis don't experience noticeable symptoms, here are signs you may have it. If any of these red flags sound familiar, reach out to your health care provider:
- Abdominal bloating
- Abdominal pain
- A feeling of fullness after eating just a few bites
- Acid reflux
- Changes in blood sugar levels
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
There is currently no cure for gastroparesis, but with changes to your diet, along with medication, you can find relief.
The cause of gastroparesis is typically not known. It can be a diabetes complication, or some patients develop gastroparesis after surgery.
Certain medications, such as opioid pain relievers, some antidepressants and high blood pressure and allergy medications can lead to slower gastric emptying and cause similar symptoms. For those who already have gastroparesis, these medications can worsen their condition.
How to Treat Gastroparesis
While it’s not possible to “fix” the damage that causes gastroparesis, your doctor can offer treatment to stimulate muscle contractions in your stomach, encouraging it to empty.
Medication is the first-line treatment. Surgery is reserved for those who don’t respond to medications or can’t take them.
The goals of treatment are to:
- Stimulate your stomach muscles and/or allow your stomach to empty
- Make sure your body has the nutrition and hydration it needs
- Manage symptoms and side effects of the condition
- Manage the cause and to prevent it from getting worse
Your treatment plan may include:
- Nutrition/hydration therapy
- Specific treatments for the condition causing your gastroparesis (such as diabetes)
Lifestyle changes can also help your condition, like taking note of your symptoms and what foods or habits improve or worsen them. Little changes can make a big difference in how you feel.
Some people find it helpful to:
- Eat smaller meals more often
- Reduce fat and fiber in your diet, which take longer to digest
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs
- Add physical activity, such as taking a walk after eating
Find Expert Digestive Care, Close to Home
If you have concerning stomach symptoms and need expert care, AdventHealth is here to help. Our compassionate and experienced health care professionals offer comprehensive care and support for your digestive health.
Visit our website to learn more about how we can care for you in body, mind and spirit. You deserve to feel whole.