First of all, let us have a look at the definition for gastroparesis in general; and diabetic gastroparesis definition in particular.
So, gastroparesis means the condition of slow emptiness of stomach. For your information, there are many factors contributing in the movements of the stomach, including vagus nerve and muscles of stomach and bowels.
When these structures are damaged, the consequence will be the “paralyzed” work of stomach with food storing for long times inside.
Concerning the diabetic gastroparesis, persistent high blood sugar levels cause chemical reactions and to the nerve and other damages to those blood vessels supplying the vagus nerve.
Therefore, this nerve is not functioning very well, causing a delayed work in the digestive tract. Generally, the damage to nerves is called diabetic neuropathy . In this case, the damaged nerve is called vagus nerve.
If food is staying for too long in the stomach and not emptying properly, it can lead to infections. This can be very serious when it occurs in the stomach, because may become a large mass (bezoar) that may eventually block the intestines.
Therefore, surgery is a must although, sometimes, it might seem difficult and dangerous to remove the mass.
Keep in mind to always address your alimentary problems to your doctor, in order to catch the diabetic gastroparesis in time in the early stages, as the treatment is much easier and with less serious complications.
Take note that the signs of gastroparesis are related to the alimentary problems. Therefore, frequent heartburns, vomiting or unexplained weight loss might suggest any gastroparesis problem. However, sometimes, they are not related to gastroparesis.
When you eat, you may feel full earlier than usual or, experience loss of appetite more often. You may also experience abdominal bloating or gastoezophageal reflux.
Unusual changes in the blood sugar levels that do not comply with the food intake or daily needs might also indicate a symptoms of diabetic gastroparesis.
This is because, when stomach does not empty normally, the food does not pass into the bowels to be then digested. Therefore, when you check your blood sugar and find high, you hardly could control it.
After telling your doctor all your problems, there are other tests that will give the final diagnosis for diabetic gastroparesis, including blood tests, ultrasound and radiographic tests (Barium x-ray and barium beefsteak meal; gastric manometry; upper endoscopy, radioisotope gastric-emptying scan). Your doctor will explain it better to you.
With regards to the treatment, the main goal is to manage this condition in order to prevent the severe complications. The principal aim is to maintain healthy blood glucose levels, as they will impede further damages to the vagus nerve.
Dietary changes such as changes in the time or amount of each meal may alleviate the situation. However, in some severe cases, feeding tubes or intravenous feeding is needed.
At the end:
The more we know what causes diabetes, the easier it becomes to prevent it with a strong willing and sagacity. However, if we still fall into diabetes, then , the same changes will help preventing the severe complications , such as diabetic gastroparesis.Beat Diabetes › Diabetes Complications › Symptoms of Diabetic Gastroparesis
Written by Dr.Albana Greca Sejdini, Md, MMedSc
Medically reviewed by Dr.Ruden Cakoni, MD, Endocrinologist