Gastroparesis - Possible Causes

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What causes gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis can be caused either by diseases of the stomach's muscles or the nerves that control the muscles, though often no specific cause is identified. The most common disease causing gastroparesis is diabetes mellitus, which damages the nerves controlling the stomach muscles.

Gastroparesis also can result from damage to the vagus nerve, the nerve that controls the stomach's muscles, that occurs during surgery on the esophagus and stomach. Scleroderma is an example of a disease in which gastroparesis is due to damage to the stomach's muscles. Occasionally, gastroparesis is caused by nervous reflexes, for example, when the pancreas is inflamed (pancreatitis). In such cases, neither the nerves nor the muscles are diseased, but messages are sent through nerves from the pancreas to the stomach which prevents the muscles from working normally.

Other causes of gastroparesis include imbalances of minerals in the blood such as potassium, calcium or magnesium, medications (such as narcotic pain-relievers), and thyroid disease. For a substantial number of patients no cause can be found for the gastroparesis, a condition termed idiopathic gastroparesis. Indeed, idiopathic gastroparesis is the second most frequent cause of gastroparesis after diabetes.

Gastroparesis can occur as an isolated problem or it can be associated with weakness of the muscles of other parts of the intestine, including the small intestine, colon and esophagus.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Ebyn, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: April 01

My gastroparesis (GP) started a couple of months after having a laparoscopy and hysteroscopy to address endometriosis and other reproductive diseases. I also have a hiatal hernia and GERD. After emergency room visits and poor care at my primary care physician's I went to a naturopath at which time he ordered a bowel sample test and a food elimination diet. We focused on getting the stomach enzymes more balanced, used DGL for heartburn. After several months I was feeling better and found out that I had numerous food sensitivities, including eggs. I am gluten free and vegan and had my GP well controlled. A few weeks ago I had a second abdominal surgery and my GP flared up. I didn"t know I needed to tell the surgeon so they could use different medications and anesthesia. I was told the anesthesia, stress of surgery, trauma to colon and bowel due to removal of endometriosis, and pain medications were the root of the new worsening. I can only eat 3 cups of solid food a day and still have minor symptoms.

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Comment from: J.T., 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: May 19

I had blood clots in the legs and later to the heart. I believe something from this condition, or medication that I was taking, or I'm on now, is the cause of my gastroparesis. I had no problem before the clots.

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