August is Gastroparesis Awareness Month. If you don’t know what gastroparesis is, don’t worry—you’re not alone. One purpose of having a Gastroparesis Awareness Month is to bring attention to this difficult-to-manage condition. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about gastroparesis, to help broaden your awareness and understanding.
What is gastroparesis?
Gastroparesis is a disorder that stops or slows the movement of food from your stomach to your small intestine, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). “Normally, after you swallow food, the muscles in the wall of your stomach grind the food into smaller pieces and push them into your small intestine to continue digestion,” the NIDDK site reports. “When you have gastroparesis, your stomach muscles work poorly or not at all, and your stomach takes too long to empty its contents. Gastroparesis can delay digestion, which can lead to various symptoms and complications.”
Who gets gastroparesis, and how common is it?
You may not be familiar with gastroparesis because it is not that common. About 10 men and about 40 women have it out of 100,000 people. That said, symptoms that are similar to gastroparesis occur in 1 out of 4 U.S., adults, the NIDDK reports. Gastroparesis is more common in those with diabetes, those who’ve had surgery on the stomach or small intestine, and those with certain cancer treatments.
What are the symptoms of gastroparesis?
They can include feeling full after eating just a few bites, vomiting, nausea, acid reflux, abdominal bloating, abdominal pain, and lack of appetite. However, some people have no symptoms at all.
What are the treatments for gastroparesis?
There are several ways to treat gastroparesis, according to The Mayo Clinic. First, your doctor may discuss certain changes you can make to your diet, such as eating smaller meals, eating well-cooked vegetables, staying hydrated, and walking after meals. There are also medications that stimulate the stomach muscles or help to control nausea and vomiting. Other medications are under investigation. Surgery is also an option in extreme cases.
When should I see a doctor?
If you have the symptoms of gastroparesis over several weeks and one or more of the associated risk factors, give your primary care doctor a call for further evaluation.
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