Gastroparesis: That Gut Feeling (Part 2)

As always, a big thank you to those of you who shared your gastroparesis stories this past week (see "Gastroparesis: That Gut Feeling [Part 1]"). I can’t imagine that this is an easy complication of diabetes to deal with, yet I’m also heartened to hear of some success stories. Diabetes and its complications are managed and treated in varying ways, and what works for one person doesn’t always work for another. Trial and error, plus a lot of patience, is usually what works best.

Treatment of Gastroparesis
One of the first steps in dealing with any complication of diabetes is to focus on blood glucose control. I know that this is pretty obvious, but it rings true especially for gastroparesis. Why? Because if you have this condition and your blood glucose levels are consistently running above your target range, your symptoms are likely to be much worse.

High blood glucose levels can slow down stomach emptying even more, leading to an exacerbation of symptoms. So, as hard as this can be, work with your team to regulate your blood glucose as best as you can.

Diet and Nutrition
The second step in managing gastroparesis is to focus on your diet. You may need to experiment a little and tweak things here and there to find what works best for you. Working with a dietitian can be a big help.

More severe cases of gastroparesis can be treated with tube feedings, whereby a tube is inserted into the stomach or small intestine and a nutritional formula is given via the tube. Tube feedings can be temporary and used during times when gastroparesis “flares up.” In more extreme situations, intravenous feedings can be provided via a catheter inserted into a vein. However, the use of intravenous feedings in people with gastroparesis is pretty uncommon and should be used only if a person’s gastrointestinal tract is not functioning.

Next week: Drugs for treating gastroparesis, and more!

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Amy Campbell: Amy Campbell is the author of Staying Healthy with Diabetes: Nutrition and Meal Planning and a frequent contributor to Diabetes Self-Management and Diabetes & You. She has co-authored several books, including the The Joslin Guide to Diabetes and the American Diabetes Association’s 16 Myths of a “Diabetic Diet,” for which she received a Will Solimene Award of Excellence in Medical Communication and a National Health Information Award in 2000. Amy also developed menus for Fit Not Fat at Forty Plus and co-authored Eat Carbs, Lose Weight with fitness expert Denise Austin. Amy earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Simmons College and a master’s degree in nutrition education from Boston University. In addition to being a Registered Dietitian, she is a Certified Diabetes Educator and a member of the American Dietetic Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Amy was formerly a Diabetes and Nutrition Educator at Joslin Diabetes Center, where she was responsible for the development, implementation, and evaluation of disease management programs, including clinical guideline and educational material development, and the development, testing, and implementation of disease management applications. She is currently the Director of Clinical Education Content Development and Training at Good Measures. Amy has developed and conducted training sessions for various disease and case management programs and is a frequent presenter at disease management events.

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