August is Gastroparesis Awareness Month

August is Gastroparesis Awareness Month

What in the world is gastroparesis? In healthy digestion of food, the stomach employs strong muscles that spontaneously contract to move food out of the stomach and through the rest of the digestive system. However, in people with gastroparesis, the spontaneous flexion of the stomach muscles is disturbed so that food accumulates in the stomach and emptying the stomach into the intestinal tract is very difficult.

Not only can this condition cause many symptoms ranging from mild to severe, but it can also be life-threatening. Two of the more severe symptoms of gastroparesis are significant blood sugar fluctuations and significant nutritional deficits. People with gastroparesis may experience frequent nausea or vomiting. Other common symptoms of gastroparesis include:

  • Feeling full after eating a small amount of food
  • Bloating
  • Weight loss
  • Appetite loss
  • Abdominal pain

There is a significant amount of research being done to determine the causes of gastroparesis where there are no identifiable conditions that could be responsible. However, there are some known causes of gastroparesis, including:

  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Botched gastric-bypass surgery
  • Poorly-managed diabetes
  • Medications, including narcotic pain relievers
  • Amyloidosis
  • Scleroderma

While the exact causes of gastroparesis are unknown for most of the people who suffer from this condition, there are some health factors such as hypothyroidism, abdominal surgery, cancer treatments, and viral infections, among others, which put you at a higher risk of developing gastroparesis.

There are many misconceptions about gastroparesis that we would like to clear up.

Gastroparesis is not an eating disorder. Instead, it is a gastrointestinal disorder. Because the stomach cannot empty normally, people with gastroparesis feel full all the time, and that prevents them from being able to eat much. Also, since nausea and vomiting are often side effects of gastroparesis, it’s better not to eat than to eat.

People with gastroparesis are not lazy. They can often be lethargic because they can’t get the nutrients they need to produce energy.

Gastroparesis is, for many people, not the result of not taking proper care of themselves. Excepting the poor management of diabetes – and even with this disease, the poor management may not be intentional because there are many reasons why blood sugar can suddenly spike or suddenly bottom out – most cases of gastroparesis have a corresponding other condition that is causing it.

If you suspect you have or someone you love has symptoms of gastroparesis, call GastroCareLI today at (516) 265-7049 to set up an appointment with our gastroenterologists. GastroCareLI is committed to the compassionate care of each of our patients, and we want to help you find answers and relief quickly.

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