Gastroparesis

Gastroparesis is a disorder in which the stomach takes too long to empty after eating. The delay is caused by damage to the stomach nerves and results in bloating, heartburn, and possibly serious symptoms, such as loss of appetite.

Diabetes is the most common cause of gastroparesis. Other causes include some disorders of the nervous system, such as Parkinson's disease and stroke, and some medicines, such as tricyclic antidepressants, calcium channel blockers, and narcotics.

Symptoms are intermittent and most often occur during and after a meal. They include:

  • A feeling of fullness after only a few bites of food.
  • Frequent bloated feeling.
  • Belching and hiccups.
  • Heartburn or vague stomach pain.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss.

Symptoms range from mild to severe. Severe symptoms of gastroparesis may improve with treatment using medicines that help the stomach empty more quickly (motility agents). In very severe cases, a feeding tube placed in the small intestine may be needed.

Last Updated: August 6, 2008

Author: Monica Rhodes

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Peter J. Kahrilas, MD - Gastroenterology

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