Gastroparesis: What is it? Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms and Treatment

Gastroparesis is a condition that reduces the ability of the stomach to empty its contents.

It is not a blockage (obstruction). Synonyms: diabetic gastroparesis; Delayed gastric emptying.


The exact cause of gastroparesis is unknown. It can be caused by an interruption of nerve signals to the stomach. The condition is a common complication of diabetes, as it can also appear after some surgeries.

Risk factors for gastroparesis, include:

  • Diabetes.
  • Gastrectomy (surgery to remove part of the stomach).
  • Systemic sclerosis.
  • The use of medications that block specific nerve signals (anticholinergic medications).


  • Esofagogastroduodenoscopia (EGD).
  • Gastric emptying study.
  • Upper gastrointestinal transit.

Changes in diet can help control symptoms. Consult your doctor if symptoms persist or if you have new symptoms.

The symptoms of gastroparesis:

  • Distension.
  • Hypoglycemia (in people with diabetes).
  • Sickness.
  • A sudden feeling of fullness after meals.
  • Weight loss without treatment.
  • Vomiting

The treatment of gastroparesis:

People with diabetes should constantly monitor their blood glucose levels. Better control of blood glucose levels can improve the symptoms of gastroparesis. Making small meals and eating softer foods can also help alleviate some symptoms.

Medications that can help:

Cholinergic drugs, which act on nerve receptors:

  • Erythromycin.
  • Metoclopramide is a medication that helps empty the stomach.

Serotonin antagonist drugs that act on serotonin receptors.


Other treatments may include:

  • The botulinum toxin (Botox) is injected into the stomach outlet (pylorus).
  • A surgical procedure creates an opening between the stomach and small intestine to allow food to pass through the digestive tract more easily (gastroenterostomy).

Expectations: many of the treatments seem to bring only a temporary benefit. The possible complications. Continuous nausea and vomiting can cause:

  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Malnutrition.

People with diabetes can have serious complications caused by poor blood glucose control.