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Exploring Gastroparesis: Symptoms and Causes

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Have you ever had a meal sit in your stomach for hours? It’s not just bloating or overeating; it could be gastroparesis. 

Gastroparesis slows down your stomach’s ability to empty food properly. It causes pain, discomfort, and digestion issues. It’s like having a traffic jam in your digestive system, disrupting the smooth flow of food and nutrients. 

In this guide, we’ll learn about the symptoms and triggers of gastroparesis. This guide also offers insights to help manage this challenging condition effectively.

Understanding Gastroparesis: Overview & Common Symptoms

Understanding what gastroparesis is starts with understanding how our digestive system normally works. Typically, when you eat, your stomach contracts to break down food. Then, it slowly moves the food into the small intestine, where further digestion and nutrient absorption occur.

However, in gastroparesis, this process is disrupted. The nerves that control stomach muscles are damaged or dysfunctional. This results in slowed or absent stomach contractions. Consequently, food does not move through the digestive tract efficiently and takes longer to empty its contents into the small intestine. This leads to symptoms like:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling full quickly
  • Acid reflux
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fluctuations in blood sugar levels
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort

While gastroparesis can be uncomfortable and disruptive, it’s not always painful. However, the symptoms can badly impact your life. They may require dietary changes, medication, or other treatments to manage effectively. 

What Causes Gastroparesis?

Let’s delve into the causes of gastroparesis. Understanding the causes will help manage symptoms and seek appropriate treatment. 

Diabetes

Gastroparesis is commonly associated with diabetes. Diabetes causes high blood sugar levels, which can rupture blood vessels. This adversely affects the neurons and muscles, as well as the flow of oxygen to the tissues. The injury then slows down the digestion process, which further results in gastroparesis. 

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Additionally, Ozempic, according to Trulaw, is a popular type 2 diabetic medication.  Ozempic helps to manage blood sugar levels but also ends up manipulating gut hormones. Again, here the stomach emptying slows down and perhaps leads to gastroparesis.

If your blood sugar levels are high, you must regulate them with an appropriate diet, medication, and frequent checkups. Ozempic users may need to consult with their doctor for alternative medicines or treatments. 

If Ozempic proves to be the cause of gastroparesis, you should seek legal counsel. Reach out to the firms that deal with such cases. They can provide the necessary guidance and help file an Ozempic lawsuit. This might help you get compensation for your losses. 

Medications & Drugs 

Certain medicines and pharmaceuticals may interfere with nerve signals that regulate the flow of food through the digestive system. This can cause gastroparesis. Here is a list of drugs that can lead to gastroparesis:

  • Antidepressants like amitriptyline and fluoxetine.
  • Antipsychotics like haloperidol and clozapine.
  • Opioids like morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone.
  • Calcium channel blockers like nifedipine and diltiazem.
  • Anticholinergic medications like scopolamine and atropine.
  • Dopamine agonists that treat Parkinson’s disease, such as levodopa and pramipexole.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that treat acid reflux, like omeprazole and pantoprazole.
  • Diabetes-controlling medications such as GLP-1 receptor agonists and amylin analogs.

If you are or were on any of these medications and are experiencing symptoms of gastroparesis such as bloating, nausea, or vomiting, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and management.

Surgery 

Surgery may lead to gastroparesis in a variety of ways. First, during surgery, the nerves that regulate stomach muscle contractions may become damaged. This can delay or even stop the passage of food in the digestive tract. 

Second, some operations, especially those concerning the GI tract, can negatively affect digestion. The result is delayed stomach emptying. Lastly, surgical procedures sometimes form scar tissue. The scar tissues can also trigger gastroparesis. 

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The surgeries that directly or indirectly contribute to the condition include:

  • Nissen fundoplication: Anti-reflux surgery
  • Gastrectomy: Partial/complete stomach removal to treat cancer, ulcers, and obesity.
  • Gastric bypass surgery: Weight loss surgery.
  • Pancreatectomy: Removal of part/whole pancreas to treat tumors, and pancreatitis.
  • Vagotomy: Partial/complete severing of the vagus nerve to treat ulcers.
  • Cholecystectomy: Gallbladder removal to treat gallstones and inflammation.
  • Esophagectomy: Removal of part/whole esophagus to treat cancer and strictures.
  • Small bowel resection: Treatment for blockages, and tumors.
  • Partial or total gastrectomy: Removal of part/whole stomach; treats cancer, and ulcers.
  • Splenectomy: Removes spleens to treat trauma, cancer, and blood disorders.
  • Liver resection: Removes a part of the liver to treat tumors and cysts.

Other Less Common Causes of Gastroparesis

The other lesser direct and indirect causes of gastroparesis are:

  • Infections: Viral infections like herpes, bacterial infections such as lyme disease, and parasitic infections like Chagas disease.
  • Autoimmune Diseases: Conditions like lupus, scleroderma, and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Neurological Diseases: Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and stroke.
  • Collagen-Vascular Diseases: Conditions like systemic sclerosis and mixed connective tissue disease.
  • Endocrine Disorders: Diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, and adrenal disorders can disrupt stomach function.
  • Cystic Fibrosis: This genetic disorder can also cause gastroparesis due to pancreatic enzyme deficiencies.

Managing & Treating Gastroparesis

Managing gastroparesis can be challenging but possible. Here are a few approaches and treatments to try.

  • Eat meals more frequently and in smaller servings. This helps your stomach digest food with greater effectiveness. Stay away from foods rich in fat and fiber. They take longer to digest and worsen the condition. 
  • Chew your food thoroughly. This aids in digestion and eases the workload on your stomach.
  • Drink water during meals. This can help with digestion. 
  • Avoid carbonated drinks, as they can cause bloating. 
  • You should try a liquid diet if your symptoms are severe. Liquid meals are easier for your stomach to handle.
  • Consult your doctor about medications. Some drugs can help stimulate your stomach muscles. They can also help control nausea and vomiting. 
  • Try to stay upright after eating. This can help food pass through your stomach. Light exercises, like walking, can also aid digestion. 
  • Try to keep the stress to a minimum, and manage it through meditation and deep breathing. This will prevent the condition from worsening. 
  • You might need a feeding tube to get enough nutrients in severe cases. Or you may even need a surgical procedure. You should discuss these with your doctor.
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main cause of gastroparesis?

An injury to the vagus nerves responsible for stomach muscle contraction generally triggers gastroparesis. Diabetes is the primary root cause of this nerve damage.

What are the three stages of gastroparesis?

The three stages of gastroparesis are mild, moderate, and severe. They are based on the severity of symptoms and the need for interventions.

Can you live a normal life with gastroparesis?

With proper management, many people with gastroparesis can live normal lives. However, it requires dietary adjustments, medication, and sometimes medical procedures.

Treating gastroparesis takes patience and effort. With the correct approach, you can boost your quality of life. Be in contact with your medical providers for continuous assistance and guidance.

 

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