After a meal, the stomach normally empties in 1½ to 2 hours. When you have gastroparesis, your stomach takes a lot longer to empty. The delay results in
bothersome and possibly serious symptoms because digestion is altered.
Bezoar is a fairly rare condition related to gastroparesis. In this condition, food stays in the stomach for a long time and forms a hard lump. This causes food to get stuck in the stomach.
when the nerves to the stomach are damaged or don't work.
Diabetes is the most common cause. Other causes
include some disorders of the nervous system, such as
Parkinson's disease and
stroke, and some medicines, such as tricyclic
calcium channel blockers, and
opiate pain relievers. This condition can also be a complication of gastric surgery.
The most common symptoms of gastroparesis are:
A person who has
gastroparesis also may have episodes of high and low blood sugar levels.
Gastroparesis may be suspected in a person with diabetes who has upper
digestive tract symptoms or has blood sugar levels that are hard to
control. Controlling blood sugar levels may reduce symptoms of
Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and will do a physical exam. He or she may also need to do tests to check your stomach and digestion and to rule out other problems that may be causing your symptoms. Tests that may be done include:
You can make changes to your lifestyle to help relieve your symptoms of gastroparesis. Here are some things to try:
If you need help making changes to your diet, ask your doctor or a dietitian for help.
There are also medicines that can help with gastroparesis, including:
Changes to diet and medicines help most people who have gastroparesis. If that doesn't work, your doctor may have to try something else. At first, you may need to try a different medicine or take more than one medicine. Other treatments that have been tried for severe gastroparesis include:
The American College of Gastroenterology is an organization of digestive disease specialists. The website contains information about common gastrointestinal problems.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is a national organization
for health professionals and consumers. Almost every state has a local office.
ADA sets the standards for the care of people with diabetes. Its focus is on
research for the prevention and treatment of all types of diabetes. ADA
provides patient and professional education mainly through its publications,
which include the monthly magazine Diabetes Forecast,
books, brochures, cookbooks and meal planning guides, and pamphlets. ADA also
provides information for parents about caring for a child with diabetes.
The National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) is
sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The program's goal is to improve the
treatment of people who have diabetes, to promote early diagnosis, and to
prevent the development of diabetes. Information about the program can be found
on two Web sites: one managed by NIH (http://ndep.nih.gov) and the other by CDC
This clearinghouse is a service of the U.S. National
Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the
U.S. National Institutes of Health. The clearinghouse answers questions;
develops, reviews, and sends out publications; and coordinates information
resources about digestive diseases. Publications produced by the clearinghouse
are reviewed carefully for scientific accuracy, content, and readability.
Other Works Consulted
American Diabetes Association (2013). Standards of medical care in diabetes—2013. Diabetes Care, 36(Suppl 1): S11–S66.
American Gastroenterological Association (2004). AGA medical position statement: Diagnosis and treatment of gastroparesis. Gastroenterology, 127(5): 1589–1591.
American Gastroenterological Association (2004). AGA technical review on the diagnosis and treatment of gastroparesis. Gastroenterology, 127(5): 1592–1622.
Chan WW, Burakoff R (2012). Disorders of gastric and small bowel motility. In NJ Greenberger et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Endoscopy, 2nd ed., pp. 214–223. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Gomez J, Parkman HP (2009). Gastrointestinal motility and functional disorders. In EG Nabel, ed., ACP Medicine, section 4, chap. 14. Hamilton, ON: BC Decker.
Mahimo H, et al. (2005). Effects of diabetes mellitus on the digestive system. In Joslin's Diabetes Mellitus, 14th ed., pp. 1070–1102. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
July 19, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Arvydas D. Vanagunas, MD - Gastroenterology
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