Gastroparesis is a rather intimidating sounding name for a condition known as delayed gastric emptying. This is a disorder that causes the stomach to take too much time emptying its contents into the small intestine, and it occurs when the vagus nerve, which controls the speed at which food moves from the stomach into the intestinal tract, becomes damaged. When this nerve is damaged, the muscles of the intestines and stomach cannot function properly, and this is what causes the movement of food to slow down, or in some cases, completely stop.
There are a variety of conditions and disorders that can lead to the development of gastroparesis.
- Anorexia or bulimia
- GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
- Metabolic disorders
- Nervous system disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and abdominal migraine
- Viral infections
Diabetes is the most common cause of gastroparesis. This is primarily because of the changes that people experience when their elevated blood glucose levels cause chemical modifications in nerves and damage blood vessels. In some cases, it is possible for people to develop gastroparesis with no apparent underlying physical cause.
Symptoms of Gastroparesis
There are a variety of symptoms associated with gastroparesis. Some of them, however, are quite vague and could possibly be related to other conditions that are not as serious. Some of the symptoms that you might notice if you are suffering from gastroparesis include:
- Abdominal bloating
- Abdominal spasms
- Acid reflux
- An early feeling of fullness while eating
- High and low blood glucose levels
- Loss of appetite
- Upper abdominal pain
- Weight loss
Alternative Treatment Options
Fortunately, there are treatments for gastroparesis that work for the majority of patients. There are approximately four different types of prescription medications that are routinely used in the treatment of this condition. In addition, there are other options that patients who have been diagnosed with gastroparesis can explore.
One positive move that can result in rather rapid improvements is to make dietary changes. The most important thing to do is eliminate high-fat and high-fiber foods from the diet. Your physician might also recommend that you try to eat several small meals throughout the day to avoid putting a lot of food into the stomach at one time.
There are also some natural alternatives that have proven to be very useful to patients suffering from gastroparesis. Acupuncture and electroacupuncture are two procedures that are recommended for the treatment of gastroparesis. Initial trials with these treatments have produced impressive results, but make sure that you consult with a licensed, fully qualified professional before beginning a treatment program.
You might also want to try to taking a ginger supplement every day, as it has been shown in studies to help accelerate the gastric emptying process. The amount of ginger used successfully in studies is 1,200mg per day, and it should be broken down into three small doses of approximately 400mg each. Another herbal supplement that has resulted in success with patients is Swedish bitters. One tablespoon taken before meals is usually sufficient to improve the gastric emptying process.
If you have been diagnosed with gastroparesis, you might want to seek the advice of an osteopathic physician, or D.O. These physicians can offer you alternative treatment options that can be very helpful to patients with this type of condition.
By Andrew V.V.