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Last Updated: Apr 15, 2023

What Is Gastroparesis- A Diabetes Induced Digestive Problem

Dr. GarimaGeneral Physician • 2 Years Exp.MNAMS (Membership of the National Academy) (Ophthalmology)
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If you have diabetes, many parts of your body are likely to get affected over time. You might observe that your digestion is not the same as it was before you had diabetes. In this case, you are likely to face stomach problems and bowel issues. This is due to the effect of diabetes on your vagus nerve.

The vagus nerve is responsible for managing the complex processes in your digestive system. When the nerve is not functioning properly, your digestion slows down. As a result, the contents of your stomach stay longer than they should. Such a condition is called diabetic gastroparesis, which is one of the most common diabetic problems.

What is diabetic gastroparesis?

In gastroparesis, your stomach takes too much time to clear the bowel due to disrupted digestion. Usually, after a meal, the vagus nerve helps to contract the stomach muscles to break down the food into smaller pieces and pass it to the small intestine.

However, if the nerve is damaged, the muscle contraction gets halted and the decomposition of the food is slowed down. This condition is common in patients suffering from Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. This is because diabetes causes nerve damage, which in turn damages the vagus nerve.

Symptoms of gastroparesis

The most common symptoms of the condition are –

  • Heartburn

  • Nausea accompanied by vomiting

  • Appetite loss

  • Bloating in the abdomen

  • Acid reflux

  • Weight loss

  • Fluctuations in the blood sugar level

  • Feeling full even after consuming a little amount of food

  • Spasms in the stomach

What are the treatment options?

The first step to treat Diabetic gastroparesis is to manage the levels of blood sugar. In this case, your doctor might ask you to check your blood sugar regularly – that will help him to modify the treatment to cure this condition.

The treatment can include the following steps –

  • Altering your insulin dosage and the number of times you take it

  • Oral medication may be prescribed to improve the condition

  • Gastric electrical stimulation – where a device called a gastric neurostimulator is implanted in the lower abdominal region. It sends low-energy electrical impulses to your stomach muscles to cure cases of severe vomiting and nausea.

The doctors will recommend some dietary changes – avoid fiber-rich foods and include low-fat foods instead. With proper treatment and lifestyle changes, diabetic patients may be able to avoid common digestive problems like gastroparesis.


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