Unraveling Gastroparesis: Essential Information for Patients and Caregivers

  Mar 27, 2024

Unraveling Gastroparesis

Have you ever had that feeling of discomfort in your stomach right after you’ve eaten?

Well, it might not be your diabetes acting up.

This can be a symptom of something much more complicated happening to your body.

Yes, we’re talking about gastroparesis. 

It’s a condition that stops or slows down food before it reaches the small intestine and it can be quite discomforting or painful.

Did you know that about 4% of the world’s population suffers from this chronic condition?

And, many people go undiagnosed for this disease, as the range of symptoms for gastroparesis can be like other stomach issues like GERD or Celiac Disease.

Because of this, the number of people who suffer from this disease is much higher.

In this article, we will look at the mysteries surrounding Gastroparesis, how it occurs, what treatments are available, etc.

So, What Exactly is Gastroparesis?

Food is so much more than what we eat.

Humans, as social animals, tend to gather and connect around food.

So, just imagine what would happen to you if even the simple act of eating could make you sick.

Sounds pretty depressing, right?

This is exactly what gastroparesis does.

Gastroparesis is basically a condition where the vagus nerve in your stomach gets damaged, which in turn slows down or stops the food from getting to your small intestine.

Gastroparesis is associated with a decreased life expectancy compared to the general population, with an estimated mortality rate of 33% at 5 years. It can also substantially impair quality of life, cause increased hospitalizations, and increase health costs.

What are the Causes of Gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis can happen for many different reasons, the most common being the vagus nerve getting damaged due to diabetic complications.

It can also happen after you’ve had surgery in your esophagus, stomach or small intestine, which may have caused damage to the vagus nerve.

And that’s not all, taking drugs like Ozempic and its sister, the new “wonder” weight loss drug Wegovy, can also cause this disease.

The relationship between ozempic and gastroparesis is not that hard to guess.

Both Ozempic and Wegovy contain semaglutide

These and other drugs in this family work by mimicking the GLP-1 hormone.

GLP-1 can slow down the passage of food through the stomach, which helps people feel fuller longer.

And if it gets too slow, you can pretty much guess what happens next.

What are the Symptoms of this Disease?

It is also known as gastric stasis or gastric paralysis.

This means that your stomach is taking too long to empty, and this can cause the food and liquids to stay in the stomach longer than normal. 

Here are some of the symptoms that this disease can cause:

  • You feel full after eating just a little bit.
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting undigested food
  • Abdominal pain
  • Acid reflux
  • Bloating
  • Anorexia
  • Weight loss

How Do You Go About Diagnosing Gastroparesis?

You know, the symptoms of gastroparesis are similar to many stomach-related conditions like Gastritis, Gastric ulcers, Pyloric stenosis, Celiac disease, GI obstructions, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), etc.

This means that making an accurate diagnosis of the condition is much harder.

So, to make a proper diagnosis, doctors usually first give you a comprehensive physical where you describe your symptoms and medical history and then they will run you a battery of tests. 

There are many different tests that gastroenterologists would use to rule out other stomach conditions:

  • Endoscopy can rule out any blockages in the intestines, stomach ulcerations, damage, and clogged food blockages.
  • Upper gastrointestinal barium contrast radiography helps check if there are delays in liquid emptying from the stomach.
  • Gastric emptying scintigraphy to see if there is a delay in gastric emptying. The test will also show how food moves from your stomach into the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Antroduodenal manometry will test the muscles used in digestion to help diagnose the cause of gastroparesis.

How Can You Treat Gastroparesis?

Well, the simple answer is no. 

There is no known cure for the disease, and nerve damage can be pretty permanent.

But you do not need to worry, as some simple lifestyle changes can help you manage your condition and live more comfortably.

Here are some ways that can help in managing gastroparesis:

  • You need to stop or avoid eating any heavy foods or carbonated drinks.
  • Chew on your food well before swallowing
  • Increase the number of times you eat throughout the day and eat only small portions.
  • Avoiding lying down for two hours after a meal
  • Keep your blood sugar and pressure under check.
A 2022 study found that gastroparesis affects 267.7 per 100,000 adults in the United States, but a population-based estimate suggests that up to 1.8% of the population is affected. This means that about 10 men and about 40 women have gastroparesis out of every 100,000 people. 

A 2022 study found that gastroparesis affects 267.7 per 100,000 adults in the United States, but a population-based estimate suggests that up to 1.8% of the population is affected. This means that about 10 men and about 40 women have gastroparesis out of every 100,000 people. 


Gastroparesis is a pretty serious condition that can slow down or stop the food in your stomach from reaching the small intestine.

This means that you might not feel like eating or that anything you eat or drink will not stay put inside the stomach.

Diagnosing this disease can be hard, as it shares similar symptoms to many other stomach disorders.

But with a simple physical exam and a couple of tests, your gastroenterologist can easily diagnose the disease.

As there is no cure, only by making certain lifestyle changes can you manage the condition and lead a comfortable life.