The term Gastroparesis, is made up of two different words, gastro and paresis. While gastro means stomach, paresis means partial paralysis. This is what happens with the gastrointestinal tract of patients in this case, as the stomach of the person, gets partially paralyzed, leading to improper movements.
In medical terms, Gastroparesis is the condition, in which the food stops moving altogether or moves very slowly from the stomach to the intestine. It is also known as delayed gastric emptying, as the stomach remains occupied with food for longer duration, because the food cannot follow its regular path, and move to the intestinal tubes.
The Gastroparesis that is caused due to diabetes is known as Diabetic Gastroparesis, and is the most commonly found condition of gastroparesis. This condition is defined by the symptoms, like, bloating of stomach, pain in the lower abdomen, nausea, heart burn, stomach spasms and frequent vomiting.
Also the person starts feeling full, as soon as he/she consumes the food and this feeling remains for hours. In most of the people suffering from this condition, meals are many times accompanied byvomiting, some times as soon as the food is consumed, and some times, even hours after the meal. This condition of diabetic gastroparesis can be diagnosed by endoscopy of upper gastrointestinal tract, ultrasound, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), carbon breath tests and Scintigraphy.
The Reason Behind Occurrence of Diabetic Gastroparesis
Gastroparesis is caused due to a defect in vagus nerve, which is responsible for controlling the movement of food, within the gastrointestinal tract. This defect can be caused due to many different reasons, like, gastrointestinal disorder, scleroderma, gastric bypass surgery, stress, antireflux surgery and vagotomy, where this nerve is cut off accidently, or deliberately, during any stomach related surgery.
In Gastroparesis, this vagus nerve becomes ineffective leading to problems in movement of food. The stomach muscles are not able to get the signal through nerve, and so they either move very slowly or stop moving altogether, thereby delaying the emptying of stomach leading to various disorders.
The main cause of Gastroparesis is diabetes mellitus and so, it is wide spread in the diabetic population of the world. Also, contrary to the previous belief that, diabetic Gastroparesis is mostly caused due to type 1 diabetes, the recent studies have shown that both the forms of diabetes, i.e.,type 1 as well as type 2 are equally capable of causing this disorder.
Diabetes and Gastroparesis
In Diabetes, the blood glucose levels of the person remain high, as either insulin is not produced sufficiently, or is being rendered ineffective. This continuous high blood sugar level, induces many chemical changes, into different nerves of the patient. These chemicals are harmful to the nerves, especially nerves in the region of stomach, including the vagus nerve,and damage them.
Also, this high sugar level of the blood damages the vessels carrying blood from the main arteries to these nerves. So, the vagus nerve is not able to get sufficient amount of oxygen and other nutrients and thus, becomes ineffective and damaged, leading to diabetic Gastroparesis.
Diabetic Gastroparesis is an extremely painful condition, and so, the people suffering from diabetes, need to avoid this condition by taking insulin regularly. In case you are already suffering from diabetic Gastroparesis, then keep checking your glucose levels, and increase the intake of insulin, preferably after meals.