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Why Gastroparesis Awareness Month Is So Important

August 4, 2020

August is Gastroparesis Awareness Month. Gastroparesis is the name of a condition in which your stomach is slow to empty its contents into the small intestine. This isn't due to any type of blockage. Instead, as the name of the condition suggests ("gastro" refers to the stomach, and "paresis" indicates nerve-related muscle weakness), the cause is a malfunction in the nerves that serve the region.

Gastroparesis is not common. Out of 100,000 people, about 10 men and about 40 women have gastroparesis. However, symptoms similar to those of gastroparesis occur in about 1 out of 4 adults in the United States. Gastroparesis can begin at any age, although the average age of onset is 34 years.

While gastroparesis is a relatively uncommon disorder, it can be very debilitating for those who suffer. Let’s take a closer look at why gastroparesis awareness month means so much to so many people.

Symptoms of Gastroparesis

Symptoms of gastroparesis include heartburn, nausea, vomiting, and feeling full quickly when eating.

Gastroparesis Diagnosis & Treatment

Doctors use several tests to help diagnose gastroparesis and rule out conditions that may cause similar symptoms. The tests you undergo may include:

  • Gastric emptying study. You’ll eat a light meal, such as eggs and toast, that contains a small amount of radioactive material. A scanner that detects the movement of the radioactive material will be placed over your abdomen. It monitors the rate at which food leaves your stomach.
  • Upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy. This procedure visually examines your upper digestive system with a tiny camera.
  • Ultrasound. Ultrasound can help diagnose whether problems with your gallbladder or your kidneys could be causing your symptoms.
  • Upper gastrointestinal series. This is a series of X-rays in which you drink a white, chalky liquid (barium) that coats the digestive system to help abnormalities show up.

Gastroparesis treatments include medications and possibly surgery. But if you are diagnosed with gastroparesis, to manage the condition, diet is crucial.

Your diet should emphasize nutrient density and ease of digestion. You’ll be asked to eat small meals of soft, well-cooked food, and to avoid high-fat foods, which delay the emptying of the stomach. Foods high in fiber are difficult to digest and are also limited, or in some cases, eliminated. Fruits and vegetables, which contain nondigestible fiber, should be served cooked, and in some cases, pureed. You should also avoid carbonated or fizzy beverages and alcohol.

Gastroparesis awareness month shares a vital health message about a chronic condition. Pinpointing the diagnosis can improve the quality of life issues you may have that are connected to it. That’s why it is essential to get screened for different conditions, especially as you get older.

Our guide “Midlife Health Screenings for Men and Women” can explain which screenings you’re due for and which ones can wait. Download it today to clear up the confusion and always be in the know. It’s one way to stay ahead of any potential health problems.

Midlife Health Screenings