A digestive system is a group of organs responsible for the digestion and absorption of food in the body. The digestive system includes the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus.
It’s one of the body’s essential systems because it’s responsible for extracting nutrients from food and getting rid of waste. One of the most crucial parts of this system is the stomach and the intestines.
The stomach helps with churning and breaking down food. The small intestine is a long, coiled tube that absorbs nutrients from food. The large intestine is a shorter, more comprehensive tube that absorbs water and electrolytes from indigestible food matter. When all are in working order, your body can extract nutrients from the food you consume, giving you the energy to function throughout the day.
However, when they don’t function properly it can lead to various digestive disorders. One rare but dangerous digestive disorder is gastroparesis.
What is Gastroparesis?
Gastroparesis is a rare condition that affects the stomach’s ability to digest food. It occurs when the muscles in the stomach wall don’t work properly and can’t move food along to the small intestine. This causes indigestion and a build-up of food in the stomach.
When the build-up happens, it can cause symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, bloating, heartburn, and weight loss. The most severe cases of gastroparesis can lead to malnutrition.
Malnutrition and Gastroparesis
Malnutrition is a severe but rare complication of gastroparesis. Malnutrition occurs when the body doesn’t get enough nutrients to function correctly. This can happen when the stomach can’t digest food properly, and as a result, the person isn’t getting enough nutrients from their diet. So even if a person with gastroparesis eats a healthy meal, they can never extract the necessary nutrients from that meal.
Malnutrition can cause various health problems, including fatigue, weakness, hair loss, and weight loss. In severe cases, it can lead to organ failure and death.
It Can Be Very Uncomfortable
Gastroparesis can be very uncomfortable. The symptoms can make it hard to eat or drink and cause a lot of pain. Many people with gastroparesis feel like they have a constant stomachache. They may also feel full quickly when they eat and may vomit soon after eating.
Ultimately, it can also be hard to function because of the symptoms. Many people with gastroparesis miss work or school because they’re too sick to function.
It Can Be Dangerous
In some cases, gastroparesis can also be dangerous. If the stomach doesn’t empty properly, it can cause a build-up of food and acid. This can lead to ulcers, bleeding, and even perforation of the stomach. When these things happen, it can lead to internal bleeding and even death.
There are a few risk factors for gastroparesis. One is having diabetes. Gastroparesis is more common in people with diabetes because high blood sugar levels can damage the nerves that control the stomach muscles.
Other risk factors include having had surgery on the stomach or intestines, eating disorders, or taking certain medications.
There is no cure for gastroparesis, but there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms. One remedy is to change your diet.
Changing Your Diet
If you have gastroparesis, you must switch your diet. You need to eat smaller meals more often and avoid high-fat and high-fiber foods. It’s also important to eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly.
You should also avoid drinking alcohol and carbonated beverages. These can irritate the stomach and make symptoms worse.
If your gastroparesis is due to an eating disorder, you need to get that treated first. Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that’s often linked to gastroparesis. People who have it need to undergo bulimia nervosa treatment before anything else. If the disorder isn’t treated, it can lead to further complications in the future, which can make it very difficult to treat.
There are a few different types of medication that can help with gastroparesis. One is a prokinetic medication. This type of medication helps to move food through the digestive system.
Another option is an anti-emetic medication. This type of medication helps to relieve nausea and vomiting.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat gastroparesis. One type of surgery is a gastric pacemaker. This type of surgery involves implanting a device that sends electrical impulses to the stomach muscles to help them contract.
Another type of surgery is gastric bypass. This type of surgery involves rerouting the digestive system so that food bypasses the stomach.
Living With Gastroparesis
If you have gastroparesis, it’s crucial to make some lifestyle changes. You need to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and avoid alcohol and carbonated beverages. You also need to monitor your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes.
It’s also important to see your doctor regularly. They can help you manage your symptoms and ensure that you’re healthy. Gastroparesis can be a difficult condition to live with, but it is possible to live everyday life with the proper treatment.