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About Gastroparesis

The most common symptoms of gastroparesis – chronic nausea and vomiting – can make everyday life a challenge. 

Definition

Gastroparesis is a stomach disorder in which food is digested more slowly than normal. In a healthy digestive system, strong muscular contractions move food from the stomach through the digestive tract. With gastroparesis, however, the stomach muscles work poorly (or not at all), thus preventing the stomach from emptying properly. For some people, this condition results in serious nausea and vomiting that cannot be adequately controlled with standard medications.

Causes

Gastroparesis has several different causes, including type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, and in many cases the cause is unknown (idiopathic). 

Symptoms

Typical symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Feelings of fullness after only a few bites of food
  • Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Changes in blood sugar levels
  • Lack of appetite
  • Excessive weight loss

Impact of Gastroparesis

The impact of gastroparesis on physical well-being can be devastating. It can cause chronic nausea and vomiting and lead to malnutrition and inadequate blood sugar levels. Living with gastroparesis also affects emotional well-being – the constant discomfort of chronic nausea and vomiting can affect school and work performance, family and personal relationships, and social activities.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is based on a complete medical history, physical examination, and tests that may include:

  • Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy
  • Gastric emptying test (GET)
  • Gastroduodenal manometry
  • Electrogastrography (EGG)

Ask your doctor about other medical conditions or medications that may cause symptoms similar to those of gastroparesis.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 8 Jan 2014

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