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Gastroparesis Awareness Month Understanding a little known disease - gastroparesis.

Digestive issues affect people's lives every day. While many digestive issues are temporary, others are serious diseases and even byproducts of other diseases that can have an adverse impact on long-term health.

Gastroparesis is a common condition that affects many people who have had diabetes for a long time. However, gastroparesis also can occur in other situations as well.


According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, gastroparesis is a clinical syndrome characterized by sluggish empty of solid food from the stomach. In rare instances, gastroparesis can lead to sluggish emptying of liquid nutrients as well. The NORD notes that experts do not agree about the use of the term gastroparesis, with some suggesting it should only be used to refer to instances of grossly impaired emptying of the stomach.

What causes it?

The Cleveland Clinic notes that gastroparesis is caused by nerve injury, specifically the vagus nerve. In its normal state, the vagus nerve contracts the stomach muscles to assist in the movement of food through the digestive tract. Diabetes, however, can damage this nerve, and such damage prevents the muscles in the stomach and intestine from working properly. When these muscles are not working properly, this disrupts the natural movement of food from the stomach to the intestines.

The Cleveland Clinic notes that viral infections, gastric surgery with injury to the vagus nerve and certain medications including narcotics and some antidepressants are some additional potential causes of gastroparesis. In addition, amyloidosis, a condition characterized by protein fiber deposits in tissues and organs, and the connective tissue disorder known as scleroderma may cause gastroparesis.

What are symptoms of gastroparesis?

According to the NORD, symptoms associated with gastroparesis can vary in combination and severity from patient to patient. Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, reflux, bloating and early satiety, or feelings of fullness after just a few bites of food, make up the digestive system profile of gastroparesis.

In addition, the NORD lists anorexia among the symptoms of gastroparesis. Persistent nausea is the most prevailing symptom and it often intensifies a few hours after eating. Some people with gastroparesis will begin to vomit a couple of hours after eating, and in such instances the food is still recognizable and undigested.

Are there working treatments?

Gastroparesis is a chronic condition, meaning treatment won't cure but rather manage the disease. Medications and surgery are some treatment options, and people diagnosed with gastroparesis can discuss these options at length with their physicians.

More information about gastroparesis can be found at

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Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Article Type:Disease/Disorder overview
Date:Jul 31, 2019
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