Tue 22 Aug 2023

August is Gastroparesis Month - What is Gastroparesis?

August is not only the fun filled month for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, but it is also Gastroparesis Awareness Month.

In 2016, the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) dedicated the month of August to raising awareness and education for this challenging condition. Since then, August has become the recognised month for Gastroparesis Awareness across the globe.

What is Gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis is a chronic condition where the stomach is effectively paralysed meaning that it cannot empty its contents in the normal way. This is because the nerves that control the muscles which move food through the stomach are damaged, therefore, the muscles aren't able to work properly and empty the stomach at a suitable speed.

The typical symptoms of gastroparesis can include:

  • Nausea and or vomiting (even hours after eating)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss or malnutrition
  • Feeling full after very little food
  • Bloating
  • Heartburn

Gastroparesis can be caused from a number of things including complications of long-term conditions such as diabetes, certain autoimmune diseases or viral infections. However, another cause of gastroparesis can be through negligence or complications from certain surgeries. Surgery on the stomach or Vagus nerve are the typical types of surgery that could cause gastroparesis if there were complications.

Due to the common nature of symptoms, gastroparesis can often go undiagnosed for some time. However, diagnostic tests can include a camera being inserted into the stomach, gastric emptying scintigraphy to see how quickly food is emptying from the stomach, breath samples being collected before and after a meal or an ultrasound/MRI scan. All of these tests can help to determine how quickly food is being emptied from your stomach and indicate whether gastroparesis could be the cause of symptoms.

Although gastroparesis is a chronic condition, it can be managed in many ways through diet and medical treatment, depending on the severity of the condition. Medical treatment can range from anti-sickness medication through to being tube fed at a rate that the stomach can handle.

Stewart's Story 

In 2018, Stewart who was in his 40's at the time began feeling nauseas and found that he was unable to eat much food without vomiting and abdominal pain. This resulted in him becoming malnourished with no diagnosis. Through the above tests and many hospital stays, it was concluded that Stewart's Vegus nerve had become paralysed, likely due to a viral infection that he had contracted.  

Stewart tried various medications and diets to relieve his symptoms and maintain a healthy weight. However, the final solution for him was a Peg-J feeding tube. This allows for liquid feed to be delivered directly into his stomach, at a rate that results in the least discomfort possible. The ability to feed at home or whenever is convenient has allowed Stewart to continue with his life in the least restrictive way possible. In addition, dieticians and tube nurses will come out to his home to assist with tube changes and provide advice where necessary.

Although he continues to suffer from symptom flare ups, daily nausea and does not have the ability to eat solid foods, his diagnosis and subsequent treatment has provided him with the support he needs for his current life and future.

It is important that we continue to raise awareness for unusual conditions that can have such a life-changing impact on many people throughout the World.

At Morton Fraser, it is important to us that we stay alert to the complications that can occur as a result of potential clinical negligence or personal injury no matter how uncommon they may be. Our experienced Personal Injury Team will take the time to assess your claim and can help you get the compensation you are entitled to. Contact us today for a free and confidential chat on 0131 247 1000.

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