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Gastroparesis is a condition that affects the normal spontaneous movement of the muscles (motility) in your stomach. Ordinarily, strong muscular contractions propel food through your digestive tract. But if you have gastroparesis, your stomach's motility is slowed down or doesn't work at all, preventing your stomach from emptying properly.
The most common causes of gastroparesis are diabetes (type I), surgery (esophagus or stomach), medications (such as opioid pain relievers, some antidepressants, and high blood pressure and allergy medications) and idiopathic (no obvious cause).
Signs and symptoms of gastroparesis may include:
- Abdominal bloating
- Abdominal pain
- A feeling of fullness after eating just a few bites
- Acid reflux
- Changes in blood sugar levels
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss and malnutrition
Treating gastroparesis begins with identifying and treating the underlying condition. If diabetes is causing your gastroparesis, your health care team can work with you to help you control it.
Changes to your diet
Maintaining adequate nutrition is the most important goal in the treatment of gastroparesis. Many people can manage gastroparesis with dietary changes. Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian who can work with you to find foods that are easier for you to digest. This can help you get enough calories and nutrients from the food you eat.
A dietitian might suggest that you try to:
- Eat smaller meals more frequently
- Chew food thoroughly
- Eat well-cooked fruits and vegetables rather than raw fruits and vegetables
- Avoid fibrous fruits and vegetables
- Choose mostly low-fat foods, but if you can tolerate fat, add small servings of fatty foods to your diet
- Try soups and pureed foods if liquids are easier for you to swallow
- Drink about 34 to 51 ounces (1 to 1.5 liters) of water a day
- Exercise gently after you eat, such as going for a walk
- Avoid carbonated drinks, alcohol and smoking
- Try to avoid lying down for two hours after a meal