Gastroparesis is a disease in which the stomach cannot empty itself of food normally. This can cause bloating, heartburn, vomiting, nausea and overall discomfort abdominally. The cause of Gastroparesis is an injury to the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve, when working properly, contracts the stomach muscles to help move food through the digestive tract. When suffering from gastroparesis the vagus nerve has been damaged in some way and no longer properly moves food from the stomach to the intestines.
The symptoms of gastroparesis are:
• Poor appetite and weight loss
• Vomiting undigested food
• Poor blood sugar control
• Gastroesophageal reflux (heartburn)
A common cause of gastroparesis is damage to the vagus nerve from diabetes. The other causes are, surgery that causes damage to the vagus nerve, viral infections and medications such as narcotics and some antidepressants.
The most common ways to diagnose gastroparesis is through certain blood tests, specifically a blood sugar test. A 4-hour solid gastric emptying study, which is a test to determine the time it takes a meal to move through the stomach. A SmartPill, this is a capsule that contains an electronic device, you swallow it and it sends information on how quickly food is moving through the digestive tract.
Gastroparesis is a chronic condition there is no cure. Some medications and surgeries can help in alleviating symptoms. It is suggested that someone diagnosed with gastroparesis change their eating habits and consume more easy to digest foods. If the condition is bad enough a doctor may suggest a feeding tube. Gastroparesis is a rare condition, but if you are experiencing on going discomfort seek medical attention from your family doctor.
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