How Are Gastroparesis and Diabetes Interconnected?

Gastroparesis is a disorder that will affect the functioning of muscles in your stomach. With gastroparesis, your digestion becomes affected due to the stomach not being emptied correctly. Someone who has gastroparesis has nerve damage most likely due to high blood sugar, this then slows down the muscles within the stomach. If left untreated, gastroparesis can lead to malnutrition. 

Diabetes Mellitus, also known as diabetes, is a disorder caused by high blood sugar levels or hyperglycemia. As there are different types of diabetes mellitus, diabetic gastroparesis is one that should be known as the severity of letting this condition go can be life threatening or cause other complications such as cardiovascular disease, kidney problems, and nerve damage. 

Symptoms of Diabetic Gastroparesis 

  • Feeling stuffed after eating a small amount of food 
  • Heartburn due to the stomach acid flowing back into the esophagus 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Little appetite 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Weight loss  

There are many underlying conditions to the cause of diabetic gastroparesis. The main factor is high blood sugar levels which impair nerve function. Some autoimmune disorders can also be an underlying factor for gastroparesis. During autoimmune disorders the immune system will attack the nerves and could disrupt the function of the stomach. Other diabetes-related complications such as nerve damage can increase someone’s chance of being diagnosed with diabetic gastroparesis. 

Getting yourself tested for diabetic gastroparesis can include having lab tests performed first. If a medical professional believes your labs are alarming for this condition, then other tests may be ordered. An upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy may be performed when a camera is used to view the lining of the upper GI tract. This can help in seeing if the stomach is emptying its contents properly. It is important to be proactive with this condition so that it does not become a bigger health concern. 

Managing gastroparesis has been a struggle for some people as there has been no cure for the disorder. There are some things that can contribute to lessening the symptoms of gastroparesis.  

  • Avoiding alcohol is very important as alcohol can limit the stomach from emptying.  
  • Staying active so that the digestive process can function properly.  
  • Drinking the necessary amount of water each day to keep the body hydrated.  
  • Eat small meals more frequently, and meals that are not high in fiber or fats as those foods do not allow the stomach to digest smoothly. 
  • Watching and testing your blood sugar levels as high blood sugar levels is what can lead to diabetes mellitus. 

If you feel you may have gastroparesis, it is important to reach out to your doctor in hopes of detecting it early. In most cases, patients will be referred to a gastroenterologist or endocrinologist to further evaluate the symptoms. If you have more questions or have already been diagnosed with diabetic gastroparesis, contact Preferred Research Partners to see if our clinical trial is the right fit for you.