GASTROPARESIS (Paralysis of the stomach)

Gastroparesis is a health condition that affects approximately 1 in every 5 Americans, yet there is so little public awareness that I would imagine if someone told you they had been diagnosed with Gastroparesis, most likely you would have no idea what they were talking about, let alone what all they have been going through as opposed to that person telling you they had been diagnosed with high blood pressure, an ulcer or anemia.

To simplify the term let’s look at it this way: Gastro = Stomach, Paresis = paralysis. When we look at it that way we now have a condition in which the stomach is paralyzed. When this happens, digesting food becomes next to almost impossible and for some with a more sever diagnosis they cannot digest their food at all.

Why, what causes this? Our process of digesting food is helped along by the Vagus nerve located in our stomachs. Just as our heart works to pump blood through our bodies, the vagus nerve acts in the same way to push food on and out our stomach so that it can continue on it’s way through the rest of our digestive system.

When this nerve is damaged in any way, so is this process. Depending on the amount of damage depends on how long the food remains in our stomachs before passing on through. When completely damaged to the point of non functioning, food has no means of pushing it on through so it remains in the stomach.

It is obvious that it would be impossible for food to remain in one’s stomach without any means of helping it along. In milder cases this can be treated with medications however in more severe cases patients must depend on tube feedings to maintain their nutritional needs.

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