Gastroparesis happens when nerves to the stomach are damaged or stop working. Theautonomic nervous systemcontrols the movement of food through the digestive tract. If the autonomic nervous system is damaged, the muscles of the stomach and intestines do not work normally, and the movement of food is slowed or stopped.
Diabetes can damage the autonomic nervous system if blood glucose levels remain high over a long period of time. High blood glucose causes chemical changes in nerves and damages the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to the nerves.
The digestive system
Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of gastroparesis are:
- vomiting of undigested food
- an early feeling of fullness when eating
- weight loss
- abdominal bloating
- erratic blood glucose levels
- lack of appetite
- gastroesophageal reflux
- spasms of the stomach wall
- erratic bowel movements
These symptoms may be mild or severe, depending on the person.
Complications of Gastroparesis
If food lingers too long in the stomach, it can cause problems like bacterial overgrowth from the fermentation of food. Also the food can harden and cause nausea, vomiting, and obstruction in the stomach.This can be dangerous ifit blocks the passage of food into the small intestine.
Gastroparesis can make diabetes worse by adding to the difficulty of controlling blood glucose. 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.
Major Causes of Gastroparesis
Gastroparesis is most often caused by
- postviral syndromes
- anorexia nervosa
- surgery on the stomach or vagus nerve
- medications, particularly anticholinergics and narcotics (drugs that slow contractions in the intestine)
- gastroesophageal reflux disease (rarely)
- smooth muscle disorders such as amyloidosis and scleroderma
- nervous system diseases, including abdominal migraine and Parkinson's disease
- metabolic disorders, including hypothyroidism
Adapted and excerpted from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health.
Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, MD. 01/09
One in Ten AMI Patients Have Unrecognized Incident Diabetes
Two New LDL Cholesterol Drugs May Have Big Impact on Heart Disease
COBA Conference Steers Forward in the Fight Against Childhood Obesity
Google Secures Patent for Glucose-Sensing Contact Lens
Medtronic to Use GlucoSitter Artificial Pancreas Software in Future Insulin Pumps - A Big Deal!
Ranch Eggs Mini Marinated Beef Skewers Lamb Chops in Tomato & Fennel Sauce Dark Rum Glazed Pineapple Chunks Dijon Salmon Sugarless, Crustless Cheesecake Low-Carb Chicken Tostadas Orange-Spinach Salad Breakfast Quesadillas Shrimp Cocktail Salad
My diabetes is changing. Until a few years ago, my morning readings were reasonable and within the desired range of under 100 mg/dl. About two years ago, they started slipping upwards into the less-desirable but apparently not-worrisome range of 100-110 mg/dl. Now, this was what was recorded by my Abbott Freestyle Lite meter, which is known to record at the lower end of the home-glucometer variability range, but with my A1c firmly in the high 5s and low 6s, the meter's tendency to...