Individuals living with gastroparesis are reminded of this disheartening reality on a daily basis. Gastroparesis, also known as delayed stomach emptying, is a condition in which the stomach muscles are impaired, resulting in either partial or complete loss of normal stomach function. It is often a result of Sympathetic overdrive that inhibits stomach motility and secretions that causes gastroparesis. This can be the result of chronic stress, certain medications, or dysautonomia.
The stomach is an integral part of the digestive system. It is a muscle that moves and contracts to churn food, thereby breaking large pieces of solid food into smaller, more digestible pieces and preparing them for entry into the intestines for further digestion and proper nutrient absorption. It also propels food forward and through the gastrointestinal system; without this critical function, food either leaves the stomach too slowly or, in some cases, not at all.
An individual with gastroparesis may experience a variety of symptoms. These include:
Acid reflux or heartburn
Feeling full after only a few bites
Vomiting (especially undigested food)
Difficulty controlling blood sugar
Loss of appetite
Unexpected weight loss
Gastroparesis is a serious medical condition that requires the attention of trained health professionals to help you cope with the effects of this diagnosis and design a plan of treatment to avoid potential further complications, including infection, bezoar formation (a hardened, solid lump of food in the stomach), ketoacidosis, and malnutrition. Certain medications can help stimulate stomach movement and other physiological functions or address debilitating symptoms. Training to enhance the Parasympathetic Nervous System to stimulate stomach motility and secretions as well as facilitate peristalsis is all part of the treatment program at the POTS and Dysautonomia Center. Nutrition can also be used to address gastroparesis. The registered dietitian-nutritionist at the POTS and Dysautonomia Treatment Center will work with you to develop and implement a customized nutrition plan that considers your symptoms, needs, sensitivities, intolerances, and allergies. Appropriate medical care will help you achieve an improved quality of life, so it is always critical to seek the advice of trained, qualified health professionals as you navigate through the implications and effects of living with gastroparesis.
Courtney Nordhus, MS, RDN, LD
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist