Poor Understanding of Gastroparesis Detrimental to Patients

Gastroparesis, or delayed gastric emptying, remains misunderstood despite rising prevalence, according to a news release from the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), a nonprofit research and education organization addressing issues surrounding gastrointestinal and motility disorders.

Gastroparesis, or delayed gastric emptying, remains misunderstood despite rising prevalence, according to a news release from the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), a nonprofit research and education organization addressing issues surrounding gastrointestinal and motility disorders.

As August has been designated Gastroparesis Awareness Month by the IFFGD, the organization has been working to raise awareness of this disorder to ultimately improve patient care.

Causing the stomach not to empty properly, gastroparesis doesn’t discriminate; it unfortunately can affect people of all ages. Though its more widely known cause is long-standing diabetes, the true cause is generally unknown. While all diabetes patients do not develop gastroparesis, those who do should ensure to judiciously manage their glucose levels.

Typical symptoms, transpiring during or after meals, include nausea, vomiting, dry heaves, and stomach fullness. Nancy Norton, president and founder of IFFGD, commented, “Gastroparesis can have a significant impact on a person’s daily life.” Losing weight from limited appetite, stomach pain, and heartburn can all also add to immense discomfort, even spurring complications of dehydration and malnutrition as a result of poorly absorbing vital nutrients.

Many conditions of the gastrointestinal system share several symptoms, proper education is key, as it leads to targeted treatment. According to the release, long-term dietary interventions are the common treatments, but serious diagnoses can require tube feeding and surgery.

According to a recent Boston Business Journal release, Boston biotech firm Rhythm Pharmaceuticals Inc., is developing a new ghrelin peptide agonist, relamorelin (RM-131), therapeutic specifically for diabetic gastroparesis, providing additional treatment methods for gastrointestinal disorders.

Norton said, “Symptoms can be disabling and for some people even life-threatening, because they can be similar to those that occur in other conditions. It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis from a doctor so that effective treatment can begin.”