August 06, 2022
2 min read
August is Gastroparesis Awareness Month, and this year’s theme, “Living with GP,” acknowledges the challenges patients with gastroparesis face and how their stories can help advance diagnosis, treatment and care.
Previously, and more commonly, referred to as delayed gastric emptying, gastroparesis (GP) is a chronic digestive condition with symptoms that vary in severity, the most common of which include nausea and vomiting, stomach pain and discomfort, dry heaving, stomach fullness after a normal-sized meal, and satiety with inability to finish a meal. Patients also may experience bloating, heartburn and weight loss from decreased appetite.
In 2016, the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) founded Gastroparesis Awareness Month to promote education, awareness and research for this rare disorder which effects an estimated 5 million people in the U.S. — approximately 38 women and 10 men per 100,000 people.
“The symptoms, burdens and challenges that many face while living with gastroparesis can be extremely debilitating and life-threatening, and in order for advances in the diagnosis, treatment and care of gastroparesis to be made, their voices must be heard,” Ceciel T. Rooker, president of IFFGD, said in a released statement. “The search for answers often leaves those affected feeling helpless. But this year, for Gastroparesis Awareness Month, we will shed light on ways to overcome these challenges.”
According to IFFGD, GP is most often idiopathic, affecting an average of 30% to 50% of patients with GP, but also can be caused by long-standing diabetes, surgery, medications, cancer treatments and systemic illness. About 25% of GP patients are diagnosed with diabetic GP.
IFFGD suggests the following tips for patients with GP:
- Eat frequent, small meals that are low in fat and fiber to avoid delayed stomach emptying.
- Stay hydrated, nutritionally healthy and engage in regular physical activity.
- Maintain glucose and blood sugar control in patients with diabetes.
- Talk to your doctor about medication use and risks involved with surgery.
- Avoid or reduce alcohol and tobacco use.
“One of the more important things may be that patients with GP or GP symptoms can have several extra gastric manifestations, either as underlying conditions or more often as coexistent disorders,” Thomas Abell, MD, of the University of Louisville Jewish Hospital Outpatient Care Center, told Healio in a previous interview. “Another aspect is that patients with GP uniformly report decreased quality of life, as well as difficulties accessing care.”
Please see the American College of Gastroenterology’s latest guideline for recommendations on the diagnosis, treatment and management of patients with GP.