Gastroparesis – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Methods

Gastroparesis is the failure of the stomach to empty because of decreased gastric motility. It is also called delayed gastric emptying. Diabetes is the most common cause of gastroparesis. Gastroparesis can also occur after stomach surgery for other conditions. Gastroparesis is a weak stomach. It can be the cause of a number of abdominal complaints. The stomach is a hollow organ composed primarily of muscle that serves as a storage container for food. It can make diabetes worse by adding to the difficulty of controlling blood glucose. When food that has been delayed in the stomach finally enters the small intestine and is absorbed, blood glucose levels rise. Since gastroparesis makes stomach emptying unpredictable, a person’s blood glucose levels can be erratic and difficult to control. Patients who undergo gastric surgery may develop gastroparesis, especially those who have had preoperative gastric outlet obstruction as a complication of peptic ulcer disease. Patients with pseudo-obstruction often have delayed gastric emptying as well.

Gastroparesis can make diabetes worse by adding to the difficulty of controlling blood glucose. People with scleroderma, those on anticholinergic medications commonly used for treatment of conditions such as asthma and Parkinson’s disease, and those who have had surgery for treatment of a duodenal ulcer may also suffer from gastroparesis. Gastroparesis may be caused by motor dysfunction or paralysis of stomach muscles or may be associated with other systemic diseases such as diabetes mellitus. When the condition of gastroparesis is present the stomach is unable to contract normally, and therefore cannot crush food nor propel food into the small intestine properly. With gastroparesis, the stomach is paralyzed, so its function is greatly reduced or lost. Dietary changes and certain medications sometimes help control symptoms of gastroparesis, but they’re not effective in every case. Gastroparesis results in delayed emptying of food from the stomach into the small intestine.

Causes of Gastroparesis

The common causes and risk factor’s of Gastroparesis include the following:

Medications, particularly anticholinergics and narcotics (drugs that slow contractions in the intestine).


Systemic sclerosis.

Postviral syndromes.

Drinking alcoholic beverages and coffee.


previous gastrectomy.

Metabolic disorders, including hypothyroidism.

Use of anticholinergic medication.

Imbalances of minerals in the blood such as potassium.

Gastroparesis may also be a complication of stomach surgery for ulcer disease or weight loss.

Symptoms of Gastroparesis

Some sign and symptoms related to Gastroparesis are as follows:

A feeling of fullness after just a few bites (early satiety).

Abdominal bloating.

Nausea and vomiting.

Premature abdominal fullness after meals.

Lack of appetite.

Abdominal discomfort (These symptoms may be mild or severe, depending on the person.)

Tingling, burning, or prickling.

Sharp pains or cramps.

Upset stomach and/or vomiting.

Treatment of Gastroparesis

Here is list of the methods for treating Gastroparesis:

Diabetics may improve symptoms of gastroparesis by gaining better control of blood sugar levels.

Metoclopramide (Reglan): This drug stimulates stomach muscle contractions to help empty food. It also helps reduce nausea and vomiting.

Eating small meals and soft (well-cooked) foods may also help relieve some symptoms.

Cholinergic drugs, which act on acetylcholin nerve receptors.

Botulinum toxin (Botox) injected into the pylorus (outlet of the stomach).

If you have a bezoar, the doctor may use an endoscope to inject medication that will dissolve it.

Domperidone (Motilium, Janssen) is another drug that improves gastric emptying and may have less side-effects.