A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about a form of gastroparesis (GP) that contributes to reflux, which has generated spirited debate and disagreement among commenters, many of whom are patients with GP. The primary objection to my position is that some people feel I have trivialized the signs and symptoms of this condition and have suggested that GP is associated with being lazy.
As a gastroenterologist who regularly sees patients with the more severe form of GP described by some of the commenters, I understand how life-altering and devastating this condition can be, and it never was my intention to marginalize the challenges this chronic condition presents.
The case I presented in my earlier blog was a milder form of GP and the goal was to point out that delayed emptying of the stomach in its milder form is a common contributor to reflux and indigestion for patients like Deborah and can be successfully treated by dietary modification.
Changing your eating habits can help control gastroparesis. Your doctor or dietician may prescribe six small meals daily instead of three large ones and recommend that you avoid late-night eating. With less food entering the stomach each time you eat, the symptoms are often improved. Avoiding fatty foods and high-fiber foods that are more difficult to digest will also improve symptoms.
For patients like Deborah, of whom there are many, I stand by my recommendations and my belief that primary prevention and treatment of digestive disorders through lifestyle and dietary modifications is safe and effective therapy. I've seen it work in many patients and will continue to encourage people to "live better" in order to improve their overall health. For patients with severe GP, I use a number of tools such as pro-kinetic drugs, parenteral nutrition and gastric pacemakers when indicated in order to improve their symptoms and quality of life – my foremost goal as a physician.