Do I Have Gastroparesis? Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms

Posted By Author on January 19, 2024

A healthy diet can work wonders, not only impacting your overall wellness but affecting how you feel each day. Because of the significant role that the stomach plays, it should come as no surprise that serious issues can arise when it doesn’t function as it should.

Gastroparesis is one GI condition that may result. While the exact cause is unknown, finding relief doesn’t need to remain a mystery. Charleston GI can help! Our GI specialists are equipped to diagnose and treat a wide variety of digestive conditions, including gastroparesis. We’ve provided some helpful information below, so take a look, and then schedule your appointment today.

loss of appetite, full after eating small bites, gastroparesis symptoms What is Gastroparesis? 

Gastroparesis is characterized by a delay in gastric emptying. When your digestive system is healthy, the food you swallow is moved along the GI tract when your stomach muscles contract. If they fail to do their job, there’s a major disruption in digestion. For patients with gastroparesis, the stomach muscles move very sluggishly, or sometimes not at all, often causing unpleasant symptoms – and potentially serious complications. 

The Uncertainty Behind the Cause 

Sometimes even advanced medical testing fails to identify the precise cause of gastroparesis. It most often develops after the vagus nerve, the nerve tasked with telling the stomach to contract, is damaged. In these instances, the signal is not sent.  

Damage to the vagus nerve can result from the following:

  • Diabetes
  • Injury sustained in surgery on the esophagus, stomach, or small intestine.
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Certain autoimmune diseases or nervous system disorders.
  • Viral stomach infections.
  • Radiation of the chest or stomach during cancer treatment.

Gastroparesis Symptoms and Signs

While many gastroparesis sufferers don’t show any symptoms at all, they may develop over time. Symptoms of gastroparesis include:

  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Abdominal pain or bloating.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Heartburn
  • Feelings of fullness after eating a few bites.
  • Unintentional weight loss.
  • Vomiting undigested food eaten hours prior.
  • Increased belching.

If you find yourself suffering from any of these symptoms, contact a GI doctor near you as soon as possible and schedule an appointment

Diagnosis and Gastroparesis Treatment

To help diagnose and treat gastroparesis, your trusted gastroenterologist in Charleston, SC will first examine you and ask a series of questions about your medical history. If gastroparesis is suspected, your GI specialist may rely on lab tests or tests that measure the rate of stomach emptying. An upper endoscopy, which uses a flexible tube with a light to look inside your stomach, may also be recommended.

Treatment will vary from one patient to the next. Your Charleston GI physician may recommend dietary changes or prescribe medication to stimulate the movement of food through the digestive tract.

To help alleviate symptoms, your GI specialist may recommend that you:

  • Eat a low-fat, high-fiber diet.
  • Consume several small meals throughout the day.
  • Avoid carbonated beverages and alcohol.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Avoid lying down for two hours after a meal.
  • Add light physical activity, like walking, after a meal.

Experiencing Symptoms? Contact Charleston GI Today! 

Gastroparesis not only causes discomfort but can make everyday life feel like a chore. Don’t suffer in silence! Here at Charleston GI, our physicians are committed to providing a higher standard of caring. Whether you have questions about your diagnosis or fears regarding treatment, we’ll take the time to address each one – always focused on helping you find relief.

Finding a gastroenterologist near you is easy! We have four convenient Charleston area locations to choose from – in West Ashley, Mount Pleasant, Summerville, and Carnes Crossroads.

There’s no referral needed, so schedule your appointment today with your local GI specialists!