Gastroparesis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Gastroparesis, also known as delayed gastric emptying, is a medical condition in which the stomach takes too long to empty its contents. It can cause a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, bloating and feeling full after eating only a small amount. In severe cases, it can lead to malnutrition, dehydration and weight loss.

What Causes Gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis can be caused by various conditions, including diabetes, medications, certain viruses and infections, and surgeries of the stomach or abdominal area. In some cases, the cause is unknown.

What Are the Symptoms of Gastroparesis?

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting and regurgitation (the forceful expulsion of stomach contents)
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Feeling full after eating small amounts
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Heartburn
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss and malnutrition
  • Lack of energy

How Is Gastroparesis Diagnosed?

Gastroparesis is usually diagnosed by a combination of medical history, physical exam, blood tests, and imaging tests. The most common imaging test to diagnose gastroparesis is a gastric emptying breath test.

How Is Gastroparesis Treated?

The goal of treatment for gastroparesis is to make dietary and lifestyle changes to help manage symptoms. This may include avoiding certain foods or eating smaller, more frequent meals. Medications such as antiemetics and prokinetics may also be prescribed to control nausea and vomiting, and to speed up digestion. In severe cases, surgical procedures may be needed to implant an electrical device or tube to regulate gastric emptying.