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diabetes FAQ: treatment (part 3 of 5)
Section - Gastroparesis

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J K Drummond (no longer on the net, but well) contributed this section.

Gastroparesis (gastroparesis diabeticorum if a diabetes complication) is
nerve damage caused delayed gastric emptying. This more common than
recognized irregular digestive slowdown interferes with blood glucose
regulation and oral medicine absorption.

Severity ranges from occasionally recurring bothersome symptoms like
nausea, vomiting, constipation and diarrhea to total "stomach paralysis"
-- the inability to consume/absorb any food. This worst stage requires
tube feedings as the sole source of nutrition, IVs for hydration, and
gastric suction for waste elimination. Be aware that "stomach trouble" may
be more serious for one with diabetes and report digestive problems to
your physician. Do not wait until you have had gastroparesis for several
years or end up in the emergency room because you cannot eat. If you
are a health professional, please routinely ask diabetics if they have
digestive problems.

Many with gastroparesis are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed and find little
information about it. Often they have been used as guinea pigs in
guessing games of hit or miss treatment trials. The scary quest has
only just begun to find answers, reason, and solutions to this lesser
known and mystifying complication of diabetes. There are people who
have found answers in their lonely struggle with gastroparesis.

Most folks with gastroparesis are female, with type 1 diabetes for 20-25
years and are age 25-45 at onset of gastroparesis.

These incomplete lists of symptoms, treatments, helpful & stressful
foods, and social aspects have been compiled mostly from patient reports.
There is no all-patient guarantee of experience. CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR!

             S Y M P T O M S

Physical                Psychological

nausea                  fatigue- muscle weakness
vomiting                fear
constipation            frustration
diarrhea                stress
lack of hunger
high stomach acidity
weight loss
inability to control blood sugars


Symptoms together with gender &/or years of diabetes (clinical intuition)
Gastric Mobility Transit Test
Manometric Motility Study

Diabetics are also subject to all forms of non-diabetic gastropathy so be
aware that tests are necessary to eliminate and/or verify other diagnoses.


NUTRITION - MALNUTRITION  Dietitians recommend 6 small meals daily

Foods more easily digested   Foods increasing symptoms

fruit juices                 protein foods - meat, eggs
canned fruits & vegetables   raw fruits & vegetables
soft starches (white bread   dairy products
   & rice, mashed potatoes,
   cereals)                   caffeine, chocolate
soups                        nuts & seeds
baby foods
non-carbonated beverages

       Liquid Nutritional Supplement Drinks

    Diabetic: Choice dm (Mead-Johnson), Glucerna (Ross Labs)
              Ensure Glucerna OS (Ross Labs)
    Non-diabetic:  Ensure/Ensure plus,  Sustacal (Ross Products Div)

       Nutrition via:

    IVs (fluids or TPN)
    Tube feedings (eq. Osmolite or Supplena)

PHYSICAL - Remaining upright at least a half hour after eating,
stomach massage, enemas, glycerine suppositories, stool softeners
(for example, psyllium husk powder: Metamucil and other brands)

DRUGS - May have adverse side effects on other conditions.  Ask your MD!

Reduce stomach acid: Zantac, Pepcid, Prilosec, Axid, Cytotec
Increase motility:
    Reglan (metoclopramide)
    Propulsid (cisapride) (in U.S. only under compassionate use protocol)
    domperidone (U.S. availability: compassionate use only, and for veterinary
       use -- it's used to treat fescue toxicosis in horses)
    Zelnorm (tegaserod maleate), labeled in the US as of 2002 to treat
       women with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) dominated by
       constipation. Zelnorm increases serotonin activity in the bowel by
       activating some 5HT4 receptors, which increases serotonin in the
       bowel and increases motility. The percentage of IBS patients who
       benefit is small but significant. It's not clear why the labeling
       is limited to women, though it seems likely to be a combination of
       the fact that 2/3 of IBS patients are women and the clinical
       studies barely reached statistical significance. If the effects in
       gastroparesis follow those in IBS, a small percentage of patients
       will see improvement, and some of those will be helped a lot.
       Information from the Zelnorm prescribing information on the web site.
Reduce digestive system spasm: dicyclomine
Diarrhea: immodium, clonidine
Nausea/vomiting: marinol, thorazine, ativan, inapsine, zephran, phenergan

    Surgical (physical implants or alterations)

portacath or Hickman - IV hydration or Total Peritoneal Nutrition
jejunostomy - tube feedings
gastrostomy - for stomach suction (PEG tube)
gastric resectioning or stomach removal
gastric pacing - digestive pacemakers (experimental). Enterra Therapy by
   Medtronic, gastric electrical stimulation (GES) neurostimulator implants
   are approved as a humanitarian use device (HUD) since severe gastroparesis
   (refractory to drugs) has less then 4,000 cases per year. More info at
insulin pumps


Frustration for patient and physician from the difficulty in balancing
insulin dosages and food intake to achieve level blood sugars with
unpredictable slowed digestion.

Additional psychological impact from delayed treatment due to relative
medical unrecognition causing underdiagnosis and even misdiagnosis (ex. as
anorexia nervosa if accompanied by vomiting).

Lack of ostomy education.

If/when eating ability returns following thinking that a normal diet could
never again be eaten it may cause physical & emotional anorexia.

Often felt burden to friends and family.

Most information was collected by the pioneering health professionals of
the defunct Gastroparesis Communication Network, updated by J K Drummond.

There's an excellent web page on gastroparesis at

** If you have been or are out of work pursue Medicare/Medicaid & Social
Security Options IMMEDIATELY!

User Contributions:

Raqiba Shihab
Report this comment as inappropriate
May 10, 2012 @ 2:14 pm
Many thanks. My husband has Type 2 diabetes and we were a bit concerned about his blood sugar/glucose levels because he was experiencing symptoms of hyperglyceamia. We used a glucometer which displays the reading mg/dl so in my need to know what the difference
between and mg/dl and mmol/l is, i came across your article and was so pleased to aquire a lot more info regarding blood glucose, how to read and convert it.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 11, 2012 @ 9:09 am
It was really informative and useful for people who don't know conversion. Thanks to you

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Top Document: diabetes FAQ: treatment (part 3 of 5)
Previous Document: Has anybody heard of frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis)?
Next Document: Extreme insulin resistance

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