The direct cause of gastroparesis is not known and gastroparesis symptoms vary from person to person. The people that have the following medical conditions are more susceptible: Anorexia nervosa, stomach surgery (specifically the vagus nerve), hypothyroidism, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, amyloids and scleroderma. Since there is no cure for this disorder, dietary changes can sometimes help reduce the severity and frequency of the symptoms. In addition, there are some medications that can possibly offer relief.
If your stomach muscles are working properly, it propels food easily through the digestive tract. If the stomach muscles are weak or damaged, the stomach is not strong enough to move the food along, and thus does not completely empty. If food remains in the stomach for an extended period of time, excessive bacterial growth can occur from the food that has fermented. This food will harden (referred to as bezoars) resulting in vomiting, constant feeling of nausea, and a very dangerous blockage in the small intestines.
This disorder is a complication of diabetes and is common amongst diabetic patients. When blood sugar remains at a high level for an extended period of time, the vagus nerve can potentially be damaged, because high glucose (sugar) levels in the body have an effect on the nerves and have the potential to damage vital blood vessels that transport nutrients and oxygen to the nerves.
Gastroparesis symptoms causes sugar levels to be erratic, and very difficult to keep under control because of the unpredictability as to when food will eventually move from the stomach to the small intestines where it is finally properly absorbed.
It is important that if you are diagnosed with diabetes that you follow a dietary plan that will keep your glucose levels within normal range, but a poorly monitored diabetic diet in patients will damage the vagus nerve, resulting gastroparesis.
A feeling of fullness after eating just a few bites
Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux
Weight loss and malnutrition
Weight gain (often attributed to the ‘starvation mode’ effect)
Vomiting (especially of undigested food) – may not happen in all patients
Erratic blood glucose levels
Lack of appetite
Spasms of the stomach wall
If you have any of the above symptoms, please seek medical attention immediately. Gastroparesis symptoms are not pleasant, even if they are mild, and precautionary measures to avoid this disorder are in your best interest.