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The term "gastroparesis" stems from the Latin word "gastro" meaning stomach. Gastroparesis is the condition whereby the stomach takes too long to empty following a meal. It is caused by nerve damage to the nerves that lead to the stomach - a type of diabetic neuropathy.
The symptoms include:
* vomiting undigested food
* an early feeling of fullness
* abdominal bloating
* erratic blood glucose values
* reflux (GERD)
* spasms of the stomach walls
Because gastroparesis impacts the processing of foods, the most significant effect is erratic blood glucoses, which are difficult to stabilize. Food that remains in the stomach for long periods can ferment and promote bacterial growth. It can also harden, causing blockage to the bowel.
Diagnosis is usually confirmed using a barium swallow or gastric-emptying scan, which tracks the movement of food from the stomach to the bowel.
The keys to treating gastroparesis include:
1. Managing your blood glucose - more
frequent glucose testing, and changing
your medication regime.
2. Adjusting your diet - reduce fiber and
fats, which are slow to digest, reduce
your portion sizes and eat more
frequently. You may need to try liquid
foods until your sugars stabilize.
3. Medication - some medications can
promote movement of food from the
stomach to the intestine, while other
can help in managing heartburn and reflux
4. If these interventions are not
effective, placement of an external tube
may be indicated, to bypass the stomach.
There is no cure for gastroparesis, only management of the condition, because it is a result of nerve damage associated with diabetes.
The best treatment is prevention by following your diabetic care plan to reduce the risk for complications such as diabetic neuropathy, which can result in gastroparesis.
Contact your physician for more information about gastroparesis and how you can help to avoid this complication of your diabetes.