Gastroparesis is a long-term (chronic) condition where the stomach cannot empty in the normal way. Food passes through the stomach slower than usual.
It''re experiencing symptoms for 1 last update 29 May 2020 of gastroparesis, as it can lead to some potentially serious complications. It''re experiencing symptoms of gastroparesis, as it can lead to some potentially serious complications.
These complications include:
- dehydration from repeated vomiting
- gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) – where stomach acid leaks out of your stomach and into your food pipe (oesophagus)
- malnutrition – when your body is not getting enough nutrients
- unpredictable blood sugar levels – this is a particular risk in people with diabetes
Causes of gastroparesis
In many cases of gastroparesis, there''s disease – a condition where part of the brain becomes progressively damaged over many years
To diagnose gastroparesis, a GP will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and may arrange a blood test for you.
You may be referred to hospital to have some of the following tests:
- barium X-ray – where you swallow a liquid containing the chemical barium, which can be seen on an X-ray and highlights how the liquid is passing through your digestive system
- gastric emptying scan – you eat a food (often eggs) containing a very small amount of a radioactive substance that can be seen on the scan. Gastroparesis is diagnosed if more than 10% of the food is still in your stomach 4 hours after eating
- wireless capsule test – you swallow a small, electronic device which sends information about how fast it is moving through your digestive tract to a recording device
- endoscopy – a thin, flexible tube (endoscope) is passed down your throat and into your stomach to examine the stomach lining and rule out other possible causes
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You may find these tips helpful:
- instead of 3 meals a day, try smaller, more frequent meals – this means there''s also a small chance of this procedure leading to complications that would require removing the device, such as:
- the device dislodging and moving
- a hole forming in your stomach wall
Speak to your surgeon about the possible risks. You can also read the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines on gastroelectrical stimulation for gastroparesis.
Botulinum toxin injections
More severe cases of gastroparesis may occasionally be treated by injecting botulinum toxin into the valve between your stomach and small intestine.
This relaxes the valve and keeps it open for a longer period of time so food can pass through.
The injection is given through a thin, flexible tube (endoscope) which is passed down your throat and into your stomach.
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Your doctor can advise you about any changes you may need to make to your diet or medicine. For example, if you''ll also need to check your blood glucose levels frequently after you eat.
Page last reviewed: 14 October 2019
Next review due: 14 October 2022