Gastroparesis: Symptoms, Causes and More on Stomach Paralysis
Gastroparesis, or “stomach paralysis,” is a digestive condition caused by abnormal motility of the stomach.
A normally functioning stomach contracts and relaxes to crush food and propel it through the digestive tract. This movement is called peristalsis. If you have gastroparesis, these contractions may be erratic (or even absent) and the stomach cannot properly digest, move or absorb ingested food.
One of the most common symptoms of gastroparesis is early satiety, or a premature feeling of fullness after eating a meal. This is because the stomach is not moving food into the intestines. Other common slow digestion symptoms include:
• Upset stomach
• Upper abdominal pain
• Weight loss
Gastroparesis can develop as a post-surgical complication or a side effect of another health condition.
Some people develop gastroparesis after having GI surgery of the stomach, esophagus or duodenum. In rare cases, there is damage to the vagus nerve, which controls sensory and motor responses of the intestines. Any injury to the vagus nerve can result in interruptions to neurological impulses to the smooth muscle of the stomach that causes contractions and motility of stomach contents (Source: American College of Gastroenterology).
Many conditions can cause gastroparesis including:
• Diabetes – one of the most common causes
• Hypothyroidism or other disorders of the endocrine system
• Scleroderma or connective tissue disorders
• Autoimmune conditions
• Radiation treatment
• Psychological conditions
• Eating disorders
• Cancers or radiation treatment
• Chemotherapy agents
See a GI Specialist for Gastroparesis
If you have symptoms of gastroparesis, call your doctor. It may be time to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist, a doctor who specializes in digestive disorders. Your GI doctor can give you a full evaluation and order specific tests that can diagnose gastroparesis.
Certain medications like antidepressants and narcotics can slow digestion and gastric emptying, so take a list of all your current medications to your appointment. To be connected with a gastroenterologist, just click here and enter your zip code in the orange box.