Gastroparesis, also known as delayed gastric emptying, is a chronic condition in which the stomach takes too long to empty itself. This happens when the vagus nerve is damaged and the impulses needed to churn food are slowed or stopped. As a result, undigested food remains in the stomach and causes uncomfortable symptoms.
Gastroparesis affects about 20% of those with type 1 diabetes and about 30% of those with type 2 diabetes. It can often make diabetes harder to manage because food takes longer to digest, which can result in unpredictable blood sugar spikes.
Symptoms of gastroparesis:
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting of undigested food
- Early fullness
- Unintended weight loss
- Unstable blood sugar
- Stomach spasms
- Acid reflux
At this point, there is no known cure for gastroparesis. It is considered a chronic condition that afflicted people will deal with their entire life. However, there are ways to manage the condition with dietary changes, medications, and proper control of blood sugar.
Doctors often recommend eating smaller meals throughout the day and not eating high-fiber or high-fat foods, which take longer to digest. Gastric electrical stimulation is also an option to help reduce nausea and vomiting. In severe cases, a feeding tube and liquid diet may be necessary.