Gastroparesis, also known as delayed gastric emptying, is a health condition in which ingested food does not empty from the stomach at the normal rate, causing uncomfortable feelings of fullness and possibly more severe symptoms. Often, the exact cause of gastroparesis is unknown, however, many risk factors may directly or indirectly contribute to gastroparesis, including weight gain. If you suspect you have gastroparesis, consult your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment options.
In many cases, the precise cause of gastroparesis is unknown, but often involves disruption in the nerve signals that trigger emptying of the stomach. Nerve signals can be disrupted by many different diseases or health complications. Known risk factors for gastroparesis include eating disorders, stomach surgery, autoimmune diseases, hormonal imbalances and diabetes, explains the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.
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While weight gain by itself is not a known risk factor for gastroparesis, weight gain is a major risk factor for diabetes. When you gain excess weight, the extra fat issue can interfere with how your body responds to insulin, leading to insulin resistance and diabetes, explains MedlinePlus, an online resource of the National Institutes of Health. As a result, weight gain can indirectly lead to gastroparesis by contributing to diabetes.
Unintentional weight loss is one of the symptoms of gastroparesis. When the stomach does not empty normally, the body may have trouble absorbing enough calories and nutrients to maintain a healthy weight, explains the University of Maryland Medical Center. Malnutrition and unpredictable changes in blood sugar may also result from gastroparesis.
Most treatments for gastroparesis typically involve treating the underlying health condition that is causing the gastroparesis. Changes in diet may also help control the symptoms, such as choosing low-fiber and low-fat foods; eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day; and drinking plenty of water, recommends MayoClinic.com. Mild, low-impact exercise after meals, such as walking, may also help. For severe cases of gastroparesis, surgery or prescription medications may be necessary.
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse; Gastroparesis; July 2007
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Gastroparesis; Christine Stone et al.; February 2008
- MedlinePlus; Gastroparesis; David C. Dugdale III, et al.; November 2010
- MedlinePlus; Type 2 Diabetes; Ari S. Eckman, et al.; May 2010
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.