Gastroparesis is a medical condition which occurs when the stomach fails to function properly and takes too long to empty food. The spontaneous movement of the stomach muscles is affected due to this condition. Stomach contractions normally propel food through the digestive tract to the small intestine for further digestion and absorption of nutrients. But in case of gastroparesis the muscles of your stomach slow down eventually prevent your stomach from emptying food. The factors leading to gastrparesis are not clearly known. However, doctors believe that damage to the vagus nerve, a nerve that regulates the muscles of your stomach, may lead to gastroparesis. The most commonly observed symptoms of gastroparesis are- nausea and vomiting, stomach pain or bloating, weight loss, loss of appetite, feeling full-up after eating a few bites. A person encountering such symptoms should consult a doctor for further diagnosis.
Several tests are performed by the doctor to diagnose gastroparesis and rule out other conditions that may have similar symptoms. The following tests help in determining whether you are suffering from the condition or not- Gastric Emptying Study, Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, Ultrasound, Upper Gastrointestinal Series. After confirming the diagnosis, the doctor will prescribe you medications and drugs to stimulate the muscles of your stomach, and to control vomiting and nausea. In case the patient is unable to intake any sort of food, the doctor will recommend a jejunostomy tube or feeding tube to be placed in your small intestine.
During the Gastric Emptying Study your doctor will recommend you a light meal containing a small amount of radioactive material. A scanner will be placed over your abdomen to detect the movement of the radioactive materials and monitor the rate at which food is released from the stomach. Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy procedure is used to examine the upper digestive system- esophagus, stomach, duodenum- with the help of a small camera on a flexible tube. During the ultrasound test, high-frequency sound waves are used to display images of structures inside your body. Upper Gastrointestinal Series refers to a series of X-rays where you will be required to drink a chalky white liquid known as Barium which coats the digestive system and help abnormalities show up. Medications like diphenhydramine and prochlorperazine are recommended to control nausea, drugs like metoclopramide helps in increasing stomach contractions.
In case the patient is unable to intake any sort of food, the doctor will recommend a jejunostomy tube or feeding tube to be placed in your small intestine. These tubes are passed through your mouth, nose, or skin directly into your small intestine. This is a temporary procedure and is used only when the condition is severe or when the levels of blood sugar cannot be controlled by any other means. Electrical Gastric Stimulation is a surgical procedure during which electrodes are attached to the stomach to trigger contractions. Intravenous tubes help nutrients flow directly into your blood stream through a catheter placed into the veins in your chest.
People showing the following symptoms like nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain or stomach bloating, weight loss, loss of appetite, feeling full-up after eating a few bites etc should consult a doctor for treatment.
If you are not observing symptoms of gastroparesis then you will not need to undergo the treatment.
Although the treatment is considered safe, certain medications used for the treatment of gastroparesis may have serious side effects leading to further complications- the antibiotic Erythromycin can cause diarrhea, Cisapride can lead to irregular heart rhythms or cardiac arrhythmias.
Since gastroparesis can lead to further complications such as malnutrition, dehydration, bezoars, and blood sugar abnormalities, it is important to maintain a healthy diet. Post treatment guidelines include following small frequent meals, eating food that contains low fat, drinking lots of liquid to keep yourself hydrated, abstaining from smoking, alcohol and fizzy drinks, avoiding fibrous vegetables and fruits, and walking or exercising after a meal. You will be required to follow the medications as prescribed by the doctor, given you do not encounter any side effects.
Recovery from Gastroparesis usually does not take time. In most cases medications and healthy diet plan help improve your condition within 6-7 days. However, if you are suffering from severe abdominal pain that requires surgery, it may take a few weeks or a month to recover.
The price for the treatment of gastroparesis in India depends on the severity of the problems that you face. Usually the price range varies between Rs.2,400 to Rs.20,000.
Gastroparesis treatment results are usually permanent. However, you might develop the symptoms again if you face other gastrointestinal problems which are mainly caused by your unhealthy diet.
Certain alternative treatments may help you deal with gastroparesis although more evidence is needed to prove its effectiveness. Acupuncture- where thin needles are inserted at strategic points in your body through the skin. Electroacupuncture- where electrical current is passed through the needles to ease symptoms of gastroparesis. Iberogast and Rikkunshito- these are herbal formulas containing different herbal extracts which help speed up the process of emptying the stomach.