Gastroparesis is one of the serious forms of digestive illness. Also known as delayed gastric emptying, gastroparesis is a disorder that affects the stomach. It interferes with the digestion process by preventing the stomach from digesting food and pushing it into the small intestine.1 To easily understand how this disease affects your body, let’s first take a look at the role and importance of the stomach.
How does the stomach work?
The stomach is a jellybean-shaped organ found on the left side of the upper abdomen. It is primarily responsible for churning food and breaking down proteins.2 As food travels down from the esophagus and enters the stomach, the stomach’s thick wall stretches to accommodate its additional contents.
This wall is made of three layers of muscles that are crisscrossed in different directions. These muscles hold the glands that produce the gastric juice and are responsible for digesting the food, making them an integral part of the stomach.3
While it’s strong enough to dissolve metal,4 the stomach acid alone won’t be able to break down food quickly and pass it into the small intestine without the proper contraction of the stomach walls. This spontaneous movement of the stomach is referred to as motility, and it is exactly what gastroparesis affects.5
What happens when you have gastroparesis?
One of the possible causes of gastroparesis is believed to be a damaged vagus nerve, a disorder that can occur for a variety of reasons (see below). It results in weak stomach muscles, ultimately slowing down the digestive process. For some people diagnosed with this disease, stomach motility may even become totally absent.6
It’s often hard to pinpoint the exact cause of gastroparesis since there’s a variety of possible ways the vagus nerve can be damaged, with diabetes being one of the biggest risk factors. Taking medications and having surgical treatment on certain parts of the digestive system are also linked to the occurrence of this condition.7
Gastroparesis may lead to several symptoms that can affect your daily life. Some of the most common warning signs include:8,9
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
If not treated immediately, gastroparesis may result in numerous complications, such as malnutrition and dehydration. Diabetics who are suffering from this disease may also find it hard to manage their blood sugar level, since gastroparesis causes fluctuation of glucose in the body.10
Use these helpful, informative tips to manage gastroparesis
There’s no doubt that gastroparesis is a debilitating illness, since it may shut down your ability to digest food and absorb nutrients. Plus, its symptoms may hinder you from socializing and participating in normal activities.
While there is currently no cure for gastroparesis,11 this disease can be controlled with the help of a strict diet and healthy lifestyle changes. Managing gastroparesis is also easier if you know exactly what you’re dealing with. This is where these gastroparesis pages come into play.
These pages discuss the possible effects of gastroparesis on your quality of life, its causes and common symptoms, and the recommended diet and treatment methods. Read on to find out more about this disease.