Gastroparesis is a long-term condition in which the stomach cannot empty itself properly. This can lead to symptoms such as: a feeling of fullness, nausea, bloating, loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach pain, and heartburn.
This condition is thought to be caused by a problem with the nerves and muscles that are involved in the emptying of the stomach. Damage to the nerves may mean that the muscles do not work properly and so the movement of food can slow down.
Much of the time the damage to these nerves and muscles is unknown, but known causes can include poorly controlled type 1 or type 2 diabetes, in which the nerves may be damaged by high levels of blood glucose.
Other causes of gastroparesis can include complications post-surgery, such as bariatric surgery or a gastrectomy, certain medications, Parkinson's disease, scleroderma, or amyloidosis.
At the Neurogastroenterology Diagnostic Unit we can investigate the emptying of the stomach using non-invasive methods to determine if it is sluggish.
Although gastroparesis can often not be cured completely there are many dietary changes and medical treatments that can be used to control the symptoms. These include:
- More frequent, smaller meals
- Soft and liquid foods
- Medicines that increase stomach movements