Diabetic gastroparesis is a condition in which the stomach muscles do not work correctly. When food moves into the stomach, muscles contract and relax to break down the food before it passes into the small intestine. If the stomach muscles do not work correctly, food does not move on to the small intestine, causing problems with digestion. Diabetic gastroparesis is caused by complications of diabetes.
Symptoms of diabetic gastroparesis include vomiting, nausea, feeling full after just a few bites, bloating, abdominal pain, lack of appetite, malnutrition, and changes in blood sugar levels. Complications include severe dehydration and malnutrition. Gastroparesis also makes it more difficult for blood sugar levels to be controlled. The cause of gastroparesis seems to involve damage to the nerve that controls stomach muscles (the vagus nerve), which can be damaged by diabetes.
Diabetic gastroparesis may affect people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. If blood sugar or glucose levels remain high for a long period of time, diabetes may damage the vagus nerve. High sugar or glucose causes chemical changes in nerves and damages the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to the nerves.
Diagnosis may include and upper GI scan, MRI, CT scan, special breath test, stomach emptying test and/or an endoscopy. The most important treatment for diabetic gastroparesis is to get blood sugar levels under control. Treatment for symptoms of gastroparesis may include diet changes, medication, and/or devices or procedures that help move the digested food through the stomach but there is no cure. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with gastroparesis, talk to your doctor and specialists about the most current treatment options. Support groups are a good source for information and will help connect you with others living with gastroparesis.