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What is gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis is a stomach disorder in which the stomach takes too long in emptying its contents. If food remains in the stomach for too long, it can cause problems such as bacterial overgrowth from the fermentation of the food. The food can also harden into solid masses, called bezoars, that may cause nausea, vomiting, and, sometimes, obstruction in the

stomach. This can be dangerous if they block the passage of food into the small intestine.

Gastroparesis happens when nerves to the stomach are damaged or stop working. The vagus nerve controls the movement of food through the digestive tract. If the vagus nerve is damaged, the muscles of the stomach and intestines do not work normally, and the movement of food is slowed or stopped. In health, when the stomach is functioning normally, contractions of the stomach help to crush ingested food and then propel the pulverized food into the small intestine where further digestion and absorption of nutrients occurs. When the condition of gastroparesis is present the stomach is unable to contract normally, and therefore cannot crush food nor propel food into the small intestine properly. Normal digestion may not occur.

Diabetes can damage the vagus nerve if blood glucose (sugar) levels remain high over a long period of time. High blood glucose causes chemical changes in nerves and damages the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to the nerves.

More information on gastroparesis

What is gastroparesis? - Gastroparesis is a stomach disorder in which the stomach takes too long in emptying its contents. Gastroparesis happens when nerves to the stomach are damaged or stop working.
What causes gastroparesis? - The most common known cause of gastroparesis is diabetes. Other causes of gastroparesis include a prolonged post-viral syndrome, complications from stomach or ulcer surgery.
What are the symptoms of gastroparesis? - Symptoms of gastroparesis include bloating, nausea, early fullness while eating meals, heartburn, and epigastric pain.
What are the complications of gastroparesis? - Gastroparesis can make diabetes worse by adding to the difficulty of controlling blood glucose.
How is gastroparesis diagnosed? - A history of early satiety, bloating, nausea, regurgitation or vomiting with meals would normally prompt an evaluation to determine the cause of gastroparesis.
What are the treatments for gastroparesis? - Treatment of gastroparesis usually includes diet changes and medications. Gastroparesis is treated with medications that stimulate contractions of the stomach muscles.
Gastroparesis diet - Changing eating habits can help control gastroparesis. People with gastroparesis should reduce their intake of fiber or avoid these foods.
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005