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Lack of Awareness of Gastroparesis May Impact Medical Care

MILWAUKEE, Aug. 26, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Gastroparesis, also called delayed gastric emptying, is a medical condition where symptoms occur and the stomach cannot empty properly. The impact of the condition is significant.

Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140826/139866

The number of people with gastroparesis appears to be rising. Yet gastroparesis is poorly understood. More community awareness is needed about the condition.

"Gastroparesis can have a significant impact on a person's daily life," said Nancy Norton, president and founder of the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD). "Symptoms can be disabling and for some people even life-threatening."

The symptoms usually happen during or after eating a meal. They include:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Dry heaves
  • Stomach fullness after a normal sized meal
  • Early fullness and inability to finish a meal

Bloating, stomach discomfort or pain, weight loss due to decreased appetite, and heartburn are other possible symptoms. Complications from symptoms can include severe dehydration, obstruction, and malnutrition due to poor absorption of nutrients.

"Symptoms of gastroparesis can be similar to those that occur in other conditions," said Norton. "It's important to get an accurate diagnosis from a doctor so that effective treatment can begin."

Gastroparesis can occur in people of all ages. In most people affected the cause is unknown, termed "idiopathic." It can also occur as a complication of other diseases, surgeries, or medications. The most common known cause of gastroparesis is long-standing diabetes. Most people with diabetes do not develop gastroparesis, but for those who do it can make it hard to manage glucose levels.

Treatments for gastroparesis most often include long-term dietary measures and/or medications. If diet or medications aren't helpful enough, in more serious cases other therapies may be tried. This could involve tube feeding to maintain nutrition, or a surgical procedure to help reduce severe symptoms.

August is Gastroparesis Awareness Month. The goals of raising awareness of this condition include improved understanding and care for patients and families affected by gastroparesis.

IFFGD is a nonprofit education and research organization that addresses issues surrounding life with functional gastrointestinal (GI) and motility disorders. IFFGD helps improve care by enhancing awareness, educating, and supporting research into treatments and cures for GI disorders. Information is available on IFFGD's websites at www.aboutGastroparesis.org or at www.iffgd.org.

Media Contact:
William F. Norton


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