Gastroparesis Awareness Month 2023
Gastroparesis Doesn't Define Us, But Our Strength Does
You feel full after just a few bites. The nausea sets in. Your stomach hurts. Food sits in your gut for hours, even days, going nowhere. This is life with gastroparesis, a condition where your stomach is slow to empty. For those who live with it daily, is painful and frustrating. That's why Gastroparesis Awareness Month 2023 matters. This month gives you a chance to spread understanding about this little-known disease.
One month won't cure gastroparesis, but it can fuel hope. So on this awareness month, join the movement. Be loud and proud. Your experiences matter, your strength matters and you matter. Together, we'll put gastroparesis in the spotlight. If gastroparesis affects you or someone you know, get involved in awareness month activities. Help spread the word about this important cause and be part of creating positive change.
History Of Gastroparesis Awareness Month
Gastroparesis Awareness Month was established in 2014 to raise awareness about this complicated condition and help improve the lives of those suffering from it. Gastroparesis literally means “stomach paralysis” and refers to a condition where the stomach empties too slowly. August was chosen as Gastroparesis Awareness Month because it’s right in the middle of summer barbeque season, a time when gastroparesis symptoms can flare up due to the consumption of high-fat foods and greasy junk foods.
Briefing Out Gastroparesis
Gastroparesis is a condition where it takes too long for the stomach to empty the food. In this condition, the food stays in the stomach for longer than usual due to delayed stomach emptying. In gastroparesis, the movement (motility) of the stomach muscles is affected. It is otherwise also known as "stomach paralysis."
The most common cause is damage to the vagus nerve that controls stomach muscles. High blood sugar levels in diabetics often contribute to this nerve damage. Other causes include:
- Surgery or injury to the stomach or intestines
- Certain medications
- Autoimmune conditions
- Viral infections
The various Gastroparesis symptoms include,
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bloating in the abdomen
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of weight/malnutrition
- Poor appetite
- Heartburn or acid reflux
- Feeling full soon while eating
- Poor blood sugar control
Gastroparesis can give rise to various complications. These complications include,
- Severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalance due to excessive vomiting
- Malnutrition is a result of a lack of appetite and nutrients
- Bacterial growth due to the food staying in the stomach for a prolonged time
- Formation of Bezoar (solid lump of hardened food) that blocks the food from passing into the small intestine
- Blood sugar rise in diabetic patients occurring due to food leaving the stomach and entering the small intestine
The various diagnostic tests used for diagnosing gastroparesis are,
- Gastric emptying scintigraphy (Radioisotope gastric-emptying scan)
- Ultrasound of your abdomen
- Gastric manometry
- Upper gastrointestinal barium contrast radiography
- Barium X-ray.
- Blood tests
The various options available for gastroparesis treatment are:
- Medications that can help relieve the symptoms of nausea and vomiting
- Controlling the underlying conditions
- Decompressive gastrostomy (placing a gastrostomy tube in the stomach to drain its contents)
- Jejunostomy (inserting a feeding tube or jejunostomy tube)
- Electrical gastric stimulation
Lifestyle Changes To Manage Gastroparesis
Living with gastroparesis means making some lifestyle changes to manage your symptoms. A few adjustments can help reduce discomfort and improve your quality of life.
1. Dietary Changes
What you eat and how you eat it has a big impact on gastroparesis. Here are some tips to try:
- Eat small, frequent meals instead of large portions.
- Consuming protein rich foods is important for digestion time and help the blood sugar levels stay stable.
- Drink plenty of water and clear fluids like broth to avoid dehydration and constipation.
- Caffeine and alcohol can irritate your stomach, so limit or avoid them.
- Sit upright for meals and remain upright for 30-60 minutes after eating. This can help with digestion and reduce reflux.
- Chew food thoroughly. Break down foods into very small pieces to make them easier to digest.
2. Managing Stress
The increased stress and anxiety can negatively impact your digestion and gastroparesis symptoms. Some stress relief techniques include:
- Practicing mindfulness exercises like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga.
- Getting enough sleep every night. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep to allow your body and mind to rest. Lack of sleep can intensify symptoms and stress.
- Go for walks, do light exercise, or pursue a hobby that you enjoy. Exercise releases endorphins that improve your mood and act as natural painkillers.
Making lifestyle changes may require some trial and error to determine what works best for you. Be patient through the process, and know that small changes can significantly help improve your gastroparesis management.
The Ending Note
Gastroparesis may be invisible, but its daily impact is all too real for those affected. By raising our voices together, we can improve the lives of those with this complex disorder. Let’s make every month Gastroparesis Awareness Month and keep fighting until better help is found. So spread the word, wear the green ribbon, and make some noise, you have the power to make a difference in the lives of millions. What are you waiting for. Get out there and raise your voice for gastroparesis awareness. The people in your life with this condition will thank you for it.