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Gastroparesis, or delayed gastric emptying, is a disorder where the food does not move or moves very slowly from the stomach to the small intestine. In gastroparesis, the muscles of the stomach do not work well and digestion takes an abnormally long time.

Symptoms such as bloating, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, occur as a result of poor absorption of nutrients. Other symptoms are early fullness while eating meals, heartburn, and abdominal pain (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gastroparesis/definition-facts).

Complications                                                                  

Common complications which may occur include dehydration, electrolyte disturbances, blood sugar abnormalities, malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, stomach ulcersgastroesophageal refluxesophagitissmall bowel bacterial overgrowth, and metabolic bone disease (Fox J & Foxx-Orenstein A. Gastroparesis. American College of Gastroenterology. December 2012; http://patients.gi.org/topics/gastroparesis/). This condition is also more common in patients with diabetes mellitus. The prevalence of delayed gastric emptying in Type 1 diabetics has been reported at 50% and in type 2 diabetics, reports range from 30% to 50% (National Organization for Rare Disorders. http://raredisease.org),

Treatment

Treatment may include:

  • Dietary modifications such as adjusting the timing and size of meals, consuming more liquid-based meals, or avoiding foods that are more difficult to digest (such as fatty foods, or foods with too much fiber).
  • Other treatments may include endoscopic procedures to break the bezoar apart and remove it, feeding tubes, surgery, placement of an electrical stimulator, and
  • Medication such as metoclopramide, domperidone, erythromycin, and cisapride.
  • With proper management, many people with gastroparesis can live a relatively normal life. However, others may not tolerate treatment ( National Organization for Rare Diseases (NORD). 2012; https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/gastroparesis/.nt) and may experience significant complications, a decreased quality of life, and reduced survival.

According to the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (2019), diabetes is the most common known cause of gastroparesis. Treatment will depend on the cause, how bad the symptoms and complications are, and how well a patient responds to different treatments.

If diabetes is the cause of gastroparesis, the doctor will provide guidance on how to control blood glucose levels (http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health/information/digestive- diseases/gastroparesis).