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Gastroparesis – A Challenge to Control

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Caused by damage to the vagus nerve, which regulates the digestive system, Gastroparesis is a condition in which the stomach in incapable of completely emptying food in a normal manner.

Because of the damage to the vagus nerve, which regulates the digestive system, the muscles in the stomach and in the intestine work improperly and with this malfunction keep the food from moving through properly the gastrointestinal system.

With this disorder there is no evidence of an obstruction or other occlusion of the stomach which could be the cause of the delayed emptying of food contents.

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Gastroparesis is caused by uncontrolled diabetes, uncontrolled hypertension, or gastric surgery with injury to the vagus nerve. However, in approximately 60% of the cases, there is no definite cause of Gastroparesis.

Heartburn, GERD, nausea, vomiting, vague stomach pains, abdominal bloating, weight loss, vomiting undigested food and feeling full very quickly when eating even after just a few bites are some of the primary symptoms of Gastroparesis.

Gastroparesis is a chronic condition and current treatment typically does not cure the disease.

However there are several options available to help better manage this condition. The treatment of Gastroparesis is dependent on the severity and life-impact of the symptoms.

Easy to implement treatment options include dietary changes of eating several small meals each day instead of three large meals which allows your stomach to empty the smaller meals more quickly. Also, the diet of choice should be one lower in fiber, fat and roughage. Often liquid meals or softer foods are better than solid foods for those with Gastroparesis.

Certain medications may also be employed in order to help with stomach emptying. One of the more commonly used medications is metoclopramide or Reglan®. However, medication often has dose-limiting side effects that may cause a patient to decide to stop taking it after a short while.

Another medication, Erythromycin, an antibiotic, is also used to speed up stomach emptying. Anti-emetics designed to control the nausea and vomiting associated with Gastroparesis may also be used.

This chronic condition can be difficult to manage and to control the symptoms. Working closely with a healthcare provider is the key to finding the combination of treatments that will work best.

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