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Updated: Sep 27, 2022

Gastro refers to the stomach, and Paresis refers to paralysis or a partial paralysis…

So it would be defined as a paralysis of the stomach.

It is also described as Delayed Gastric emptying

Gastroparesis is a disease where the stomach cannot process, digest, or

empty out food as it normally would.

In Gastroparesis, stomach nerves become damaged, which in turn affect digestion muscles of the stomach. This does not let the stomach function properly, which slows the process of digestion.

What causes the nerve damage in Gastroparesis?

Nerve impulses travel to and from the brain and the stomach.

If this pathway is damaged, or more specifically the nerves of the stomach are damaged, then the ability for the stomach to perform its function will be impaired.

Nerve damage, or neuropathy, is the cause of Gastroparesis. Nerve damage, specifically to the Vagus nerve, can be due to many reasons, but a primary reason is uncontrolled blood glucose levels due to Diabetes.

Diabetes is a primary cause of Gastroparesis. It is a due to elevated Blood glucose levels that this type diabetic Neuropathy occurs.

Gastric surgery can lead to Gastroparesis, when the nerves of the stomach have been mechanically damaged.

Injury to the nerves…such as any type of injury that causes damage to the nerves, or pathway to the nerves of the stomach.

Viral infections,

Autoimmune disorders such as scleroderma

And a rare disease called Amyloidosis (which are deposits if protein fibers, that can affect the tissues and organs of the digestive tract, such as the Stomach.

Medications, such as Opiates/narcotics, and antidepressants.

Sometimes it is NOT known why it happens...This is called Idiopathic.

***How is Gastroparesis diagnosed?

Through discussing signs and symptoms with your Health care provider

Physical examination

Lab work

Gastric Emptying Study (Scintigraphy)

Smart Pill

Bowel obstruction (such as a tumor) must be ruled out

What are the Symptoms of Gastroparesis

The symptoms of gastroparesis include:

Stomach bloating

Stomach/Abdominal Pain

Feeling full quickly

Nausea / Vomiting even vomiting

Undigested food


Weight loss

Poor appetite and

Poor blood glucose control. Hypogylcemia and or HYPERglycemia.

Complications of gastroparesis?

  • Malnutrition from lack of absorption of nutrients,

  • Dehydration from lack of absorption and vomiting

  • Fermentation of food by bacteria not digested timely in stomach

  • Formation of Bezoars (which are masses of food that have become hardened, and can cause additional issues such as bowel obstructions).



Good glucose control

Medications such as Reglan (use short term)



If Diabetes is the cause, controlling blood glucose

levels can prevent further damage.

Surgery such as gastric Bypass

Gastric electrical stimulation.

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