Gastroparesis and Diabetes: What Does It Do and How Can I Be Tested?

Gastroparesis

Gastroparesis is a disorder where your stomach takes longer to empty out contents (ADA, 2014). This is a serious condition caused by damage done to the vagus nerve (Nazario, 2015).

By slowing your digestive system down, gastroparesis causes several symptoms and harmful effects. That is why it is important to be aware of it.

The vagus nerve normally is damaged due to high blood sugar over a period of time. The American Diabetes Association, ADA, states, “High blood glucose causes chemical changes in nerves and damages the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to the nerves” (ADA, 2014).

Therefore, if the blood vessels that are carrying the necessary chemicals to the nerve are damaged, then the nerve will more than likely also become damaged. When the vagus nerve stops working, the intestines and the stomach do not work as efficiently. They can stop digesting food or slow the process down significantly.

So, it will take longer to digest your food. Why should you worry then? Gastroparesis can significantly worsen your diabetes due to the difficulty of manage glucose levels.

If food is staying in your system for longer, it takes longer for the sugar to enter your body. When the food finally goes into the small intestine, your glucose levels will skyrocket (ADA, 2014).

According to the ADA, if food takes too long to digest, then it can cause bacterial overgrowth due to fermentation. This can be dangerous to your body since there is too much bacteria inside of your system.

Gastroparesis can also cause something called bezoars. Bezoars occur when foods hardens into solid pieces. This will cause “nausea, vomiting, and obstruction in the stomach” (ADA, 2014). These can be extremely dangerous for a person if the bezoar plugs a passageway for the digestion system, such as the entrance to the small intestine.

Due to the amount of vomiting, it can also lead to dehydration. Dehydration can raise your chances of low blood sugar and DKA. So, it is important to stay on top of how much water is in your system.

It is important to go to your healthcare specialist if you feel like you might have developed gastroparesis. They will do a physical exam and check your blood glucose levels.

Some of the other tests that are possible to diagnose gastroparesis are a(n) “barium x-ray, barium beefsteak meal, radioisotope gastric-emptying scan, gastric manometry, wireless motility capsule, electrogastrography, ultrasound, upper endoscopy, [or] stomach or small intestine biopsy” (Nazario, 2015).

Most of these try to track how quickly you are digesting food in your system. It is important to keep a strong communication with your doctor so you will be able to fight this well. No one wants to have issues with their digestive system.

So, it is very important that you take care of your blood sugar levels throughout the day. Make sure to track if you have high blood sugar. If you are unable to get it to go down, then you should see a doctor right away.

Bibliography

American Diabetes Assocation. (2014). Gastroparesis. American Diabetes Association. Retrieved from http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/gastroparesis.html

Nazario, B. (2015). When diabetes causes stomach problems. WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/type-1-diabetes-guide/diabetes-and-gastroparesis#1