Gastroparesis, also called delayed gastric emptying, affects roughly 100,000 Americans. People with gastroparesis have damaged stomach nerves, which causes undigested food to remain in the stomach for too long. The undigested food can cause bacterial growth and can also harden into solid masses, called bezoars, that may cause nausea, vomiting, and stomach obstruction.
Gastroparesis is common among people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, but it can also be caused by stomach surgery, medication, or other conditions, such as anorexia and Parkinson's disease. Symptoms include:
- Vomiting of undigested food
- An early feeling of fullness when eating
- Weight loss
- Abdominal bloating
- Erratic blood glucose levels
- Lack of appetite
- Gastroesophageal reflux
- Spasms of the stomach wall
A series of tests, and sometimes an endoscopic procedure, will determine whether a patient is suffering from gastroparesis. Medication is the first treatment option. The UK HealthCare Digestive Health Program's multidisciplinary specialists work with each patient to determine the proper medications. Severe cases require a feeding tube insertion so nutrition can be delivered directly to the small intestine.