Signs and Causes of Gastroparesis: Dietary Changes and Medical Treatments From Your Plano GI
If you've ever felt an intense wave of nausea, abdominal pain, and bloating after eating a meal, you may have experienced gastroparesis. This tricky condition affects the normal contractions of the stomach, slowing down digestion. As a Plano GI doctor, I often help patients identify and manage gastroparesis.
Gastroparesis means that the stomach cannot empty itself of food properly. This leads to symptoms like:
Nausea and vomiting
Abdominal pain and bloating
Early feeling of fullness when eating
Lack of appetite
Unintentional weight loss
The severity can range from mild discomfort to severe pain and nausea. Episodes may be triggered by certain foods or happen unpredictably.
What Causes Gastroparesis? Some Definitions From Your GI Plano Doctor
Gastroparesis has a few different underlying causes:
Diabetes is the most common cause, high blood glucose levels can damage the vagus nerve controlling stomach muscles.
Nervous system diseases like Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis can disrupt signals between the brain and stomach.
Infections can sometimes lead to gastroparesis.
Other causes include medications (pay attention to the new weight loss drugs), surgical complications, and eating disorders.
But sometimes.... we don't really find a good reason for the cause.
In many cases at my GI clinic in Plano, no cause can be identified and the gastroparesis is termed idiopathic. Various factors may affect the vagus nerve and make the stomach muscles sluggish.
Getting a Diagnosis
I first perform a full history and physical exam. Based on findings, I may order:
Blood glucose test to check for diabetes
Ultrasound to evaluate the gallbladder
Gastric emptying scan to measure stomach emptying time and/or a Gastric Emptying Breath Test (GEBT), which is a new alternative test that can be performed in the comfort of your home.
The gastric emptying scan involves eating food with a radioactive tracer and imaging the stomach over time. This helps quantify delayed emptying. The GEBT is a similar test that involves eating foods supplied to you for testing, and then using a breath test to quantify the gastric emptying.
One key aspect of managing gastroparesis is adjusting the diet:
Eat smaller, more frequent meals 4-6 times per day
Often I recommend 3 regular but smaller meals, with liquid nutritional shakes in between the meals
Limit high fiber foods like raw veggies, beans, nuts (they tend to sit in the stomach longer)
It is important to take a fiber supplement to offset the lower-fiber diet
Cook vegetables well and prefer soft, well-cooked options
Choose lean proteins that are soft and tender
Avoid fried and fatty foods - VERY IMPORTANT!!!
Stay hydrated with liquids 30 minutes before or after meals
These changes allow food to pass through the stomach more easily, reducing symptoms. Keeping a food journal can identify triggers to avoid. Nutritional shakes or smoothies can supplement meals if intake is too restricted.
If dietary changes alone don’t relieve symptoms, medications can help:
Prokinetic medications like metoclopramide (Reglan) stimulate stomach contractions.
This traditionally has not been a long-term option, but there is a newer intra-nasal (via the nose) option that is available and safer for long-term use
Anti-nausea medications like ondansetron (Zofran) ease nausea and vomiting.
Botox injections can relax the pyloric valve between the stomach and small intestine. There is limited data on how useful this intervention is.
In really severe cases, I may recommend:
Feeding tube for nutrition
Endoscopic intervention called a G-POEM
Surgical options like a pyloroplasty or gastrectomy as a last resort
The treatment approach depends on the specific symptoms presenting in each patient. My goal as a GI doctor in Frisco is to control symptoms, ensure proper nutrition, and improve quality of life.
Living with Gastroparesis
Managing gastroparesis well takes some trial and error. Sticking to dietary guidelines, taking medications as prescribed, and working closely with your Plano GI doctor can help identify an effective treatment regimen.
While gastroparesis can be challenging, the condition can often be successfully managed through nutritional and medical support from GI doctors in North Texas. Paying attention to your body’s signals and communicating openly with your care team makes all the difference. Please contact us via the Appointment page today to make a Consultation Appointment.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that this blog is intended for Informational Use only and is not intended to replace personal evaluation and treatment by a medical provider. The information provided on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Please consult your doctor for any information related to your personal care.