Diabetes and Indigestion : Gastroparesis

Diabetes is itself something problematic to live with, but when indigestion comes with it then it becomes even worse. If you are a patient of Diabetes (either type 1 or type 2) for more than 10 years then you have chances of developing Gastroparesis, which causes indigestion and causes more fluctuations in blood sugar level. The meaning of word Gastroparesis means "Paralysis of Stomach", which itself describes the condition. The food moves very slowly through the stomach as if the stomach has paralyzed.

What is Gastroparesis ?

If you have studied about Diabetes then you must have come across a term "Diabetic Neuropathy", which is damaging of our nerves due to diabetes. This damage can also affect "vagus nerve", which plays an important role in digestion and controls the amount of time for which the food stays in our digestive system. This condition of slow down of digestion due to damage in Vagus Nerve is known as Gastroparesis.

Symptoms of Gastroparesis

  • Reflux (content of stomach comes back into esophagus)
  • Nausea and Vomiting (in some cases it may happen daily)
  • Inability to control blood sugar even after a balanced diet
  • Feeling fullness of stomach in comparative lesser amount of food
  • Bloating (abdominal discomfort)
  • Weight loss

Bacterial Growth due to Gastroparesis

When food stays for longer duration in stomach then it provides good environment for bacterial growth. These bacteria can itself cause the problem of Gas, which is very painful sometimes and you may incorrectly diagnose it as stone pain, appendicitis or some heart problem. The longer the food stays in your stomach, it becomes harder and can't move properly in small intestine. 

As soon as the food enters the small intestine the blood sugar goes up instantly.

Gastroparesis Diagnosis

Gastroparesis can be diagnosed using Barium X-ray. In this type of X-ray the patient is asked to eat food with barium, a radioactive substance, in it. It makes the food detectable inside your digestive system with the help of a X-ray machine. If half of the food stays in your stomach for more than 90 minutes then you are suffering from Gastroparesis. Apart from that several other techniques are also used for diagnosis, such as ultrasound and endoscopy. Wireless motility capsule is also used in some advanced diagnosis, where the patient swallows a tiny capsule with diet which measures the temprature, ph level and pressure in different parts of digestive system.

Gastroparesis Treatment

There is no particular cure or medicine to treat gastroparesis but treatment is often done by treating the symptoms. Sometime changing the insulin dosage or medication used to treat other medical conditions can help in lowering the symptoms.
Sometimes dietary changes can help a lot in getting relief from gastroparesis. Instead of three diets, your doctor may suggest you to take six small diets to keep the food moving. Slightly liquid diet and low-fat diet can also help you in digestion.
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