Gastroparesis, a condition in which the stomach muscles cannot properly move food through the digestive tract, has no cure. The doctor will first try to determine the cause of your condition to develop the best gastroparesis treatment for you. In addition to addressing the underlying cause, gastroparesis treatment typically includes medications and possibly an implanted device or other surgery to improve digestive function. You may also work with a dietitian to implement changes to your eating habits.
There are many possible underlying causes of gastroparesis, including diabetes, eating disorders, and autoimmune diseases. If the cause for your condition can be determined, your doctor will first focus on treating it. This gastroparesis treatment may include medications or, in the case of an eating disorder, counseling. Diabetics must take steps to control their blood sugar levels to help ease their stomach condition. They may need to modify their diet, exercise more, or take medications to manage their disease.
A prokinetic agent medication, such as metoclopramide, may be taken before each meal to help the stomach muscles move the food. Erythromycin, which is an antibiotic, can also help the stomach muscles contract. These medications may be prescribed on a short-term basis, as there is a risk of serious side effects, such as infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the loss of muscle control. If you also suffer from nausea and vomiting, your gastroparesis treatment may include anti-emetic drugs, such as ondansetron or diphenhydramine.
When these medications do not provide sufficient relief, ask your doctor about an injection of botulinum toxin. Injecting this toxin into a part of the stomach called the pyloris may help the stomach move food. Repeated injections are necessary, as the results are temporary. Long-term effects are unknown, because as of 2011, there are insufficient studies regarding its safety.
Another gastroparesis treatment option involves implanting a device on the outer edge of the stomach. It sends out electrical impulses to control the stomach's contractions. Patients may also undergo surgery for gastroparesis treatment, which involves either bypassing or stapling the lower stomach.
In addition to taking medications or undergoing a procedure, include dietary changes in your gastroparesis treatment plan. Try to eat smaller meals more frequently instead of eating three large meals. Eat a low-fat, low-fiber diet that is composed of easily digestible foods, such as pureed foods and soups. If you find that you cannot tolerate food at all, your doctor will show you how to use a feeding tube so that food goes directly to your small intestine.