Gastroparesis: Understanding the Basics

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Gastroparesis: A Comprehensive Guide

Gastroparesis is a chronic condition that affects the stomach’s ability to empty its contents. This can lead to a range of symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and bloating. Gastroparesis can be caused by a variety of factors, including diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and certain medications.

Symptoms of Gastroparesis

The most common symptoms of gastroparesis are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Early satiety (feeling full after eating a small amount of food)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Weight loss

Other symptoms of gastroparesis can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • Constipation

Causes of Gastroparesis

The most common cause of gastroparesis is diabetes. In people with diabetes, high blood sugar levels can damage the nerves that control the muscles of the stomach. This can lead to delayed gastric emptying and the development of gastroparesis.

Other causes of gastroparesis include:

  • Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus and scleroderma
  • Certain medications, such as narcotics, antidepressants, and calcium channel blockers
  • Viral and bacterial infections
  • Surgery on the stomach or esophagus
  • Trauma to the abdomen

Diagnosis of Gastroparesis

Gastroparesis is diagnosed based on a patient’s symptoms and a physical examination. Your doctor may also order one or more of the following tests:

  • Gastric emptying study: This test measures how long it takes for food to leave the stomach.
  • Upper endoscopy: This test involves inserting a thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end into the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum.
  • Manometry: This test measures the pressure in the esophagus and stomach.

Treatment of Gastroparesis

There is no cure for gastroparesis, but there are a number of treatments that can help to manage the symptoms. These treatments include:

  • Medications: Medications can be used to help improve gastric emptying and relieve symptoms. These medications include prokinetics, which stimulate the muscles of the stomach, and antiemetics, which help to prevent nausea and vomiting.
  • Diet: Eating small, frequent meals can help to reduce symptoms of gastroparesis. It is also important to avoid foods that are high in fat or fiber, as these foods can slow down gastric emptying.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat gastroparesis. Surgery can involve removing part of the stomach or creating a new opening between the stomach and small intestine.

Complications of Gastroparesis

If left untreated, gastroparesis can lead to a number of complications, including:

  • Malnutrition: Gastroparesis can make it difficult to absorb nutrients from food, which can lead to malnutrition.
  • Dehydration: Gastroparesis can also lead to dehydration, as the body is unable to absorb fluids properly.
  • Electrolyte imbalances: Gastroparesis can also cause electrolyte imbalances, as the body is unable to absorb electrolytes properly.
  • Bezoars: Bezoars are hard masses of undigested food that can form in the stomach. Bezoars can cause a number of problems, including nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

Outlook for Gastroparesis

The outlook for gastroparesis varies depending on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. With proper treatment, most people with gastroparesis are able to manage their symptoms and live a full and active life.

Prevention of Gastroparesis

There is no sure way to prevent gastroparesis, but there are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of developing the condition, including:

  • Managing your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes
  • Avoiding medications that can cause gastroparesis
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Maintaining a healthy weight


Gastroparesis is a chronic condition that can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. However, with proper treatment, most people with gastroparesis are able to manage their symptoms and live a full and active life. If you are experiencing symptoms of gastroparesis, it is important to see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment plan.

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