(BlackDoctor.org) — Gastroparesis is a diabetes-related condition where the stomach cannot empty itself of food in a normal fashion. Most often, gastroparesis occurs in people with type 1 diabetes; however, it can also occur in those with type 2 diabetes. Most sufferers have had diabetes for at least 10 years and have other complications of diabetes.
What causes gastroparesis in diabetes?
Gastroparesis is caused by damage to the vagus nerve, which regulates the digestive system and makes muscles function. Diabetes is a leading cause of gastroparesis, accounting for about one-third of cases. Damage to the vagus nerve keeps the muscles of the stomach and intestine from functioning properly. In gastroparesis, food remains in your stomach because it is not processed and pumped through the intestines.
Other causes of gastroparesis include:
• Viral infections
• Abdominal surgery with injury to the vagus nerve
• Medications such as narcotics and some antidepressants
• Amyloidosis (deposits of protein fibers in tissues and organs) and scleroderma (a connective tissue disorder that affects the skin, blood vessels, skeletal muscles, and internal organs)
What are the symptoms of gastroparesis in diabetes?
The symptoms of gastroparesis linked to diabetes include:
• Heartburn or reflux (backup of stomach contents into the esophagus)
• Vomiting undigested food
• Poor control of blood sugar in diabetes
• Feeling full quickly when eating
• Abdominal bloating
• Poor appetite and weight loss
What are the complications of gastroparesis in diabetes?
If you have diabetes and gastroparesis, you should be aware of the following complications:
• Food that stays in the stomach for a long time can spoil, which can lead to the growth of bacteria.
• Food in the stomach can harden into a lump called a bezoar. Bezoars can cause blockages in the stomach that keep food from moving into the small intestine.
• Gastroparesis can cause additional health problems for people who have diabetes. When food finally does leave the stomach and enter the small intestine, there is a rise in blood sugar levels. Gastroparesis can make it difficult for the person with diabetes to control his or her blood sugar levels consistently.
• In severe cases, daily vomiting may occur.