Gastroparesis affects how the stomach moves food into the intestines and leads to bloating, nausea, and heartburn. When type 2 diabetes causes the condition, doctors call it diabetic gastroparesis. What is it and how to treat it?
Living with type 2 diabetes over time can affect a number of different parts of the body in different ways.
One of which includes the vagus nerve which is a nerve that controls how quickly the stomach empties.
When the vagus nerve is damaged, however, a person’s digestion slows down and food stays in the body longer than it should.
This condition is known as gastroparesis and can leave a person feeling queasy and in pain.
Type 2 diabetes: Gastroparesis is caused by having high blood sugar and damages the stomach muscles
Gastroparesis is caused by nerve injury, including damage to the vagus nerve, explained the Cleveland Clinic.
The health site added: “In its normal state, the vagus nerve contracts (tightens) the stomach muscles to help move food through the digestive tract.
“In cases of gastroparesis, the vagus nerve is damaged by diabetes.
“This prevents the muscles of the stomach and intestine from working properly, which keeps food from moving from the stomach to the intestines.”
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The symptoms of gastroparesis include:
- Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux (backup of stomach contents into the oesophagus)
- Vomiting undigested food
- Early satiety (feeling full quickly when eating)
- Abdominal bloating (enlargement)
- Poor appetite and weight loss
- Poor blood sugar control
Type 2 diabetes: By eating a healthy diet gastroperasis risk is reduced
For type 2 diabetics who are also suffering with gastroparesis, dangerous health problems could ensue due to blood glucose levels rising quickly when the food finally leaves the stomach to enter the small intestine.
Food that says in the stomach too long begins to ferment and this can lead to the growth of bacteria in the tummy.
Also, food stuck in the stomach may begin to harden into a solid mass known as bezoar.
Bezoars can cause blockages in the stomach which keep food from passing into the small intestines.
How to treat gastroparesis and lower blood sugar levels
Managing blood sugar levels is the most important part of treating diabetic gastroparesis, advised Medical News Today.
It continued: “Most doctors will advise a person with diabetic gastroparesis to check their blood sugar levels more frequently than someone with diabetes who does not have gastroparesis.
“More frequent blood sugar checks can help the individual and their doctor better tailor their treatment.
Treatment can include any combination of the following changing the dosage and timing of insulin, oral medications, avoiding drugs which may delay gastric emptying including opiates and changes in diet and eating habits.”