Up until I started researching about common gastrointestinal problems I didn't even know some conditions existed. Well, I learned yet another complication that we diabetics have to be aware of. So far, knock on wood, I haven't had my GI attacks in awhile. I am thankful each day for not having to deal with bloating, vomiting, lumps in the throat, etc.
Gastroparesis is one such condition I learned about this week while doing research. It is defined as, "a condition in which the normal rate at which the stomach empties food into duodenum is slowed as a result of autonomic neuropathy effecting the stomach."
In other words, patients who have gastroparesis develop delayed stomach emptying. After a meal the food stays in the stomach without being digested. This is due to the damage to the vagus nerves which regulate the digestive system.
These nerves make the muscles help function in digesting food in the stomach. The damage to the vagus nerves leads to the entire gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anal spincter, unresponsive, especially the stomach muscles.
Some of the causes for this condition include use of anti-depressants, high blood pressure drugs, diabetic drugs, fatty food, high blood sugar, longevity of diabetic condition, viral infections, abdominal surgeries, narcotics, deposits of protein fibers in tissues and organs (amyloidosis) and scleroderma, a connective tissue disorder affecting skin, blood vessels, skeletal muscles and internal organs.(WebMD.com).
Symptoms of gastroparesis include: peptic ulcers, diarrhea, heartburn, vomiting, poor control of blood sugar, bloating or feeling full, poor appetite and weight loss.
Complications of gastroparesis:
1. Food stays in the stomach for a long time leading to bacterial growth.
2. Food can harden into lumps called "bezoar" causing blockages in the stomach keeping it from moving into the small intestine.
3. Vomiting and nausea.
4. Dumping syndrome caused by eating high sugar and fatty foods cause lightheadedness, rapid heart beat, cramping, sweating, fatigue. (American College of Gastroenterology)
Preventative methods include: