Have you been experiencing fullness after eating only a few bites of food alongside nausea and vomiting? You could be suffering from a stomach condition, known as gastroparesis where stomach muscles are not functioning effectively. Gastroparesis may have a close connection with fibromyalgia. Learn why…
What is gastroparesis?
Gastroparesis is a condition where stomach muscles are not functioning effectively leading to delayed stomach emptying.
Some common risk factors of gastroparesis include:
- Gastric surgery
- Treatment for cancer
- Bulimia or anorexia
- Parkinson’s disease
- Medications like pain reliever, hight pressure drugs, antacids, antidepressants, lithium etc.
- gastroparesis can also manifest after a viral illness like mononucleosis or flu.
What causes gastroparesis?
The functioning of vagus nerve and peristalsis is essential for proper digestive tract operations. Any damage or malfunction to either can result in gastroparesis.
The vagus nerve is considered as the most essential nerve in the body. This is because of the fact that it reaches from your brainstem right to your colon. The whole digestive system is very complicated, and it is the vagus nerve that helps to coordinate the signals between your brain and the digestive system. Gastroparesis occurs when the vagus nerve gets damaged.
Vagus nerve also controls the process of peristalsis, which is the contraction of the smooth stomach muscles. Peristaltic waves are responsible for the contractions in your stomach. When such contractions either stop or don’t happen enough, food is not able to move fron your stomach to the duodemum area, and this condition is known as gastroparesis.
The connection between fibromyalgia and gastroparesis
Fibromyalgia patients are highly susceptible to gastric problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or gluten sensitivity. Though there is no scientific evidence to prove the connection between gastroparesis and fibromyalgia, doctors have found a growing trend of fibromyalgia patients testing positive for gastroparesis. A theory suggest that fibromyalgia affects the nervous system, which may cause the malfunctioning of the vagus nerve, hence leading to gastroparesis. Another theory suggest that use of pain medications for fibromyalgia can also increase risk of gastroparesis.
The research on this topic is still continuing and hopefully we will be able to understand the link between fibromyalgia and gastroparesis soon.
How to treat gastroparesis?
Medications to encourage stomach contractions are are available. Consult your doctor if you would like to try this option. Nonetheless, here are other natural ways to manage less severe gastroparesis:
- Instead of the conventional 3 large meals, go for 6 small meals at closer intervals
- Avoid eating raw food like salads. Go for steamed or stir-fried vegetables.
- Have smoothies or blended juices which require less digestion and can be easily absorbed. Blended soups or puree are also good choices.
- Avoid unhealthy saturated fats or trans fats which require more work to be digested. Quit heavy fried food and fatty meat. However, small serving of healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil or avocado can be beneficial if you can tolerate them.
- Ginger tea can help with digestion.
- Avoid carbonated drinks.
- Drinks lot of water through the day and avoid cold when ever possible.
- A stroll after a meal can help with digestion as well.
For severe cases of gastroparesis with involves significant weight loss, frequent visits to the hosipital or inability stomach even a liquid diet regardless of medical help, artificial nutrition are considered.