Are you feeling nauseous and bloated? Or full before finishing your meal? Does your stomach swell up soon after you eat? Are you having heartburn that does not get better despite medications or do you have abdominal pain frequently? If you answered yes to any of these questions, and if you also have diabetes, you might be suffering from Diabetic Gastroparesis.
What is Diabetic Gastroparesis?
Gastroparesis is a condition that affects the normal, spontaneous contractions of the muscles in your stomach (motility). It also affects the normal passage of the food. Unlike the normal digestive process, gastroparesis prevents the food from properly moving through the digestive system. It causes the food to stay in your stomach for a longer period of time. Diabetes is one of the major causes of gastroparesis because it can damage the nerves most commonly the Vagus Nerve which is responsible for movement within the stomach. Diabetic gastroparesis affects 12% of patients with diabetes.
Dehydration, fluctuating blood sugars, malnutrition, Bezoar (undigested food that remains in the stomach) and decrease quality of life are some of the complications of gastroparesis.
Certain medications like opioids
Nervous system disorder like Parkinson’s disease
Infections (usually viral)
Scleroderma (an autoimmune connective tissue disorder)
Gastroparesis is a chronic condition. The first line of treatment includes gaining better control of blood sugars and life style changes including eating in smaller portions, avoiding high fat and very high fiber food, gentle exercises, avoiding tobacco and alcohol. Unfortunately, these changes may not be enough to control the symptoms.
There are a few medications available to treat gastroparesis. Most of them are used to increase the movement of stomach like erythromycin, metoclopramide (commonly known as Reglan), but often these medications are not very effective or have serious side effects.
Anti-emetics can also be used for symptomatic treatments.
If you have questions about diabetic gastroparesis, please schedule an appointment or call our care coordinator at 703-505-6620.