Your Guts vs. Gastroparesis
So your doctor has confirmed you have gastroparesis. Whether the diagnosis came after a long frustrating and uncomfortable search for the answer, or if your MD had a correct hunch and you won the medical answer lottery, the fact remains - your stomach is taking its sweet time emptying its contents.
Normally (oh, to be normal), the stomach contracts to move food down into the small intestine for digestion. The vagus nerve controls the movement of food from the stomach through the digestive tract. Gastroparesis occurs when the vagus nerve is damaged and the muscles of the stomach and intestines do not work normally. Food then moves slowly or stops moving through the digestive tract leading to all types of discomfort like nausea, heartburn, vomiting, weight loss, bloating and even more super fun, socially awkward symptoms.
So, why has this super not fun disorder chosen you? Statistically the most common cause of gastroparesis is diabetes. (What a double whammy of uncool - having to manage your blood sugar and a clogged gut.) Why is this? People with diabetes have high blood glucose, or blood sugar, which in turn causes chemical changes in nerves, and damages the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to the nerves. Over time, high blood glucose can damage the vagus nerve. Gastroparesis can also be caused by things like: surgery on the stomach or vagus nerve; viral infections; a history of anorexia nervosa or bulimia; taking medications like anticholinergics and narcotics that slow contractions in the intestine; or gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Ultimately a diagnosis, no matter how grim, is a great step forwards, because the enemy you know is the enemy you can battle effectively. Your symptoms may be mild but it is important to strap on your fighting pants because if food lingers too long in the stomach, it can cause bacterial overgrowth from the fermentation of food. Also, the food can harden into solid masses called bezoars that may cause nausea, vomiting, and obstruction in the stomach.
If you're diabetic, gastroparesis can make diabetes worse by making blood glucose control more difficult. When food that has been delayed in the stomach finally enters the small intestine and is absorbed, blood glucose levels rise. Since gastroparesis makes stomach emptying unpredictable, a person's blood glucose levels can be erratic and difficult to control - a diabetic's worst nightmare.
So, what are your best weapons against gastroparesis? The simplest and healthiest option is to change your eating habits. Your doctor may suggest six small meals a day instead of three large ones. The thought behind this is that if less food enters the stomach each time you eat, it may not become overly full. In more severe cases, a liquid or pureed diet may be prescribed. The doctor may also recommend that you avoid high-fat and high-fiber foods, as fat naturally slows digestion and fiber is difficult to digest. If you have gastroparesis, carbonated beverages are also not your friend.
If a dietary adjustment isn't providing the relief from gastroparesis you need, there is a medicinal option in the form of prescription domperidone. Both domperidone, and its equivalent name brand Motilium, have been available in Canada for many years. If you want to explore how domperidone for gastroparesis can help you, the first step is to obtain a Motilium prescription (allowing for the generic domperidone substitution if you want to save) from your doctor. Step two is to find a reputable mail order pharmacy to ensure a safe and affordable purchase.
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