Gastroparesis - Describe Your Experience

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What is gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis means weakness of the muscles of the stomach. Gastroparesis results in slow emptying of food from the stomach into the small intestine.

The stomach is a hollow organ composed primarily of muscle. Solid food that has been swallowed is stored in the stomach while it is ground into tiny pieces by the constant churning generated by rhythmic contractions of the stomach's muscles. Since smaller particles are digested better in the small intestine than larger particles, only food that has been ground into small particles is emptied from the stomach. Liquid food does not require grinding.

The ground solid and liquid food is emptied from the stomach into the small intestine slowly in a metered fashion. The metering process allows the emptied food to be well-mixed with the digestive juices of the small intestine, pancreas, and liver (bile) and to be absorbed well from the intestine. The metering process by which solid and liquid foods are emptied from the stomach is a result of a combination of relaxation of the muscle in parts of the stomach designed to accommodate food, and the pressure generated by the muscle in other parts of the stomach that pushes the food into the small intestine. (Thus, the stomach can store and empty food at the same time.) The metering also is controlled by the opening and closing of the pylorus, the muscular opening of the stomach into the small intestine.

When the contractions of the stomach's muscles are weakened, food is not thoroughly ground and does not empty into the intestine normally. Since the muscular actions whereby solid food and liquid food are emptied from the stomach are slightly different, the emptying of solids and liquids follows different time courses, and there may be slow emptying of solid food (most common), solid and liquid food (less common), or liquid food alone (least common).

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Comment from: rosie56, 55-64 (Patient) Published: May 30

I am 57, type 2 diabetic. I have had gastroparesis for years but it"s really getting me down. For a few days I'm really constipated and bloated and vomit when I eat anything, then for the next week or two I have severe stomach cramps and uncontrollable diarrhea. I also bleed a lot from the back end. I"ve had numerous tests and medication but nothing works. I"m scared to go out and have to wear a nappy. On top of this I have severe narcolepsy and cataplexy but that"s another story. At the moment my stomach is so bad I daren"t eat and am losing loads of weight. My heart goes out to everyone with this horrible condition.

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Comment from: Bonnie, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 30

I have noticed my stomach growing steadily over the past two years. It didn"t interfere with my ability to eat until 6 or 8 months ago. I can eat maybe 1/3 or 1/4 of what I used to. And I"m stuffed. I can"t belch. I am constantly taking Pepto-Bismol or Gas-X. My stomach is so large, it"s pushing up on my diaphragm, so I have a lot of trouble breathing. I can"t stand to do housework or dishes for more than ten minutes due to muscles pulling and burning in my middle back, behind my stomach. I can"t breathe lying down. I have to sleep in a recliner. Recently I tried Reglan; made me sicker. I"m over this gastroparesis; tired of having to buy maternity clothes, as nothing else fits!

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