Gastroparesis: What Is This Digestive Disorder & How to Manage It

Food sits, undigested, in the tummy, triggering abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.

Gastroparesis: What Is This Digestive Disorder & How to Manage It

Q: My doctor told me I have gastroparesis and it is a result of my diabetes, which I have had for 15 years. What is it and how can I manage it?

A: Gastroparesis is a digestive tract disorder that results from nerve damage associated with chronically high glucose levels. Folks with obesity are 10 times more likely to report symptoms of gastroparesis and about 30 percent of folks with type 2 diabetes develop the condition. That's because excess blood sugar damages the vagus nerve, which starts at the brainstem and runs through the abdomen, carrying signals back and forth between your digestive system and the brain. When damage happens, the flow of gastric acid is reduced and there's a lack of messages telling your stomach to move food down into the intestines. Food sits, undigested, in the tummy, causing erratic glucose levels, making your diabetes even harder to control, and putting you at risk for very high or low blood sugar levels. It also triggers abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.

When gastroparesis is not diabetes-related (but it usually is), it can result from Parkinson's, acid reflux disease, viral infection, or kidney problems.

To ease the symptoms you should avoid raw and high-fiber foods; fatty foods like dairy, fried foods and red and processed meats; and carbonated beverages.

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