Gastroparesis: Stomach Delays Emptying
According to the 1989 U.S. National Health Interview Survey, many Diabetics develop digestive conditions related to their Diabetes, including ulcers, diverticulitis (di-ver-tic-u-li-tis), irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea and gallstones.
Many Diabetics also develop a condition called gastroparesis (gas-tro-pa-re-sis), or “delayed gastric emptying.” Gastroparesis occurs when the stomach takes longer than normal to empty its contents because the nerves of the stomach are either damaged or simply not working.
The Biology of Gastroparesis
When an individual has gastroparesis, the vagus nerve, or the nerve that controls the movement of food through the entire digestive tract, is damaged. The vagus nerve becomes damaged when blood sugar levels remain elevated for a long period of time. When blood sugar levels are high, the sugar causes a chemical reaction with nerves and blood vessels throughout the body, which can impair their ability to carry and receive oxygen and other nutrients from the bloodstream.
Symptoms of Gastroparesis
- Vomiting of undigested food
- Feeling full after eating very little
- Weight loss
- Abdominal bloating
- Uncontrollable blood glucose levels
- Lack of appetite
- Acid reflux
- Stomach spasms
There are a host of complications associated with gastroparesis, including the following:
- Bacterial growth from the fermentation of indigested food
- Hardened food in the stomach
- Obstruction of the stomach by hardened food
How to Treat Gastroparesis
The primary concern relating to gastroparesis centers on controlling blood glucose levels. Therefore, the majority of gastroparesis treatments include some form of insulin medication, oral medications, nutrition and exercise.
Speak to your doctor immediately if you think you may have gastroparesis or if you are considering a different course of treatment.