Un-Complicating Gastroparesis (Continued)
Treatment Options... In a Bottle
If eating like a baby doesn't cut it, there are four medications that can help, but only three are approved for use here in the USA. Unfortunately, all of them suffer from the nasty combination of being only mildly effective, and carrying a host of undesirable side effects. Like, for instance, constant facial twitching and painful nipple discharge in both men and women seen with Metoclopramide; or erratic heart beat seen with the once-banned but now back-if-you're-sick-enough Cisapride. 'Nuff said about the meds. Oh, but don't despair. Your friends at Big Pharma are working on new options. Of course.
Even more Radical Treatment Options
Beyond the whole feeding-tube-to-bypass-the-stomach thing, there are other treatment options involving scalpels. One is to install vent tubes in the stomach so trapped air can be released, reducing pain. Or the bottom of the stomach can be stapled or bypassed, if the top half is still working. In very rare cases the stomach is simply removed. Completely.
But the cutting edge of cutting involves installing a stomach stimulator. The fancy-pants term for this is electrical gastric stimulation. Think pace-maker for the stomach.
Complicating the complication is the fact that there's a wide range of medications that slow down the stomach on their own. If you have a slow stomach from high blood sugar, you want to avoid these meds like the plague. In the diabetes realm these would include the meds Byetta, Symlin, and Victoza.
In the rest of the medicine cabinet, look out for narcotic painkillers, calcium channel blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, progesterone, lithium; and out in the rest of your world... sorry... nicotine.
Keep Your Chin Up, Even if Your Stomach is Down
So your first defense against gastroparesis and other "diabetes complications" is to stay uncomplicated in the first place. But if that fails, or if you didn't get the memo in time, don't despair. Better late than never, when it comes to blood sugar control. No matter how complicated your life has become, you can simplify it by getting your blood sugar contained. After all, you can't clean up the radioactive mess if the reactor is still belching out clouds of glowing green gas. Right?
Gastroparesis can be so depressing that many people who suffer from it give up trying to control their blood sugar and just throw in the towel. Listen to me. Do not do that. Remember that high blood sugar complications aren't limited to one body part. God forbid they've already removed your stomach, you sure as hell want to keep your kidneys, right?
So simplify your diabetes by containing your blood sugar. It'll simplify your life. And that's a sweet thing we can all do for our diabetes.
Wil Dubois is the author of four multi-award-winning books about diabetes. He is a PWD type 1, and is the diabetes coordinator for a rural non-profit clinic. Visit his blog, LifeAfterDX.
NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.
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