Gastric motility disorders are gastrointestinal conditions which affect the body’s ability to digest food normally. A number of conditions fall into this category, including gastroparesis.
Gastroparesis literally means paralyzed stomach. It is one of the most severe and complicated gastric motility disorders. Gastroparesis can be caused by a number of factors and is commonly seen in the diabetic population; however, often the cause is unknown. It is more prominent among females than males.
Approximately 1 in 25 Americans, including children, suffers from gastroparesis. In some instances, it appears for a brief time and goes away on its own or improves with treatment. Many cases are refractory and do not respond well to treatment.
Gastroparesis is complicated to treat and treatment options are limited. There are few medications available, mostly geared towards symptom control rather than dealing with the underlying problem. For this reason, they are often ineffective.
Additional treatment options include diet changes, certain surgical procedures and, in severe cases, nutritional support through feeding tubes or IV nutrition.
Symptoms of Gastroparesis often imitate those of other GI disorders which can make diagnosis difficult. Patients may complain of one or more of these symptoms:
- Early Satietyafter a few bites of food
- Nausea(especially after eating)
- Vomiting(often undigested food from hours or even days before)
- Abdominal Pain
- Excessive Belching
- Weight Gain
- Weight Loss
- Loss of Appetite
- Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux which is not controlled by acid suppressants
- Erratic blood glucose levels