The word gastroparesis often gives people the impression that their stomach is paralyzed and that there is nothing that they can do to solve their problem.
Fortunately, this is often not the case, certainly not in the same way that someone with a serious spinal cord injury may suffer from paralysis.
The diagnosis of gastroparesis simply means that there is a delay in how long it takes the stomach to empty. It is then typically assumed that this is due to damage to the vagus nerve, which helps control the emptying time of the stomach. In some cases this damage is actually seen or verified. But in many cases is only an assumption of nerve damage based solely on the delayed emptying time of the stomach.
What should be remembered is that a delay in gastric emptying time is a symptom with several potential causes and is not necessarily due to damage to the vagus nerve. Constipation and diarrhea are also symptoms with multiple causes. The fact that one represents a delay in bowel transit time (constipation) and the other represents an expedited transit time (diarrhea) does not mean that there is permanent damage to the nervous system, or even any damage at all to the nervous system.
These symptoms of gastroparesis, diarrhea, and constipation simply mean that the digestive tract isn’t working properly. In the case of gastroparesis, unless you have a confirmed diagnosis of damage to the vagus nerve, it is very possible that something else is causing it and that you can resolve it.
Gastroparesis is frequently associated with diabetes, and sometimes people assume that if they have diabetes then they must have nerve damage and thus gastroparesis.
However, there is still a strong possibility that there is another cause of their gastroparesis and that it can be resolved, even in the presence of diabetes. This is also true for people who suffer from GERD, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, or other digestive problems.
Patients at the IBS Treatment Center often report that they have been diagnosed with gastroparesis, and those patients often get much better after discovering the true cause of their problem. In fact, studies in the medical literature have demonstrated the same thing. If you suffer from gastroparesis, don’t give up. There may be a solution for you!
Image thanks to medicinenet
Dr. Stephen Wangen is the award winning author of two books on solving digestive disorders, and a nationally recognized speaker on IBS. He has been on ABC, NBC, and Fox as well as public radio. He was recently named one of Seattle’s Top Doctors by Seattle Magazine.