If food lingers too long in the stomach, it can cause problems, like bacterial overgrowth from the fermentation of food. Also, the food can harden into solid masses called bezoars that may cause nausea, vomiting, and obstruction in the stomach. Bezoars can be dangerous if they block the passage of food into the small intestine.
Diabetic gastroparesis can make diabetes worse by adding to the difficulty of controlling blood glucose. When food that has been delayed in the stomach finally enters the small intestine and is absorbed, blood glucose levels rise. Since diabetic gastroparesis makes stomach emptying unpredictable, a person's blood glucose levels can be erratic and difficult to control.
The diagnosis of diabetic gastroparesis is confirmed through one or more of the following tests:
- Barium x-ray
- Barium beefsteak meal
- Radioisotope gastric-emptying scan
- Gastric manometry
- Blood tests
- Upper endoscopy
(Click Diagnosing Diabetic Gastroparesis for more information on these tests.)
The primary goal of treatment is to regain control of blood glucose levels. Possible treatments include:
- Oral medications
- Changes in diet and eating times
- Feeding tubes and intravenous feeding (in severe cases).
It is important to note that in most cases, treatment does not cure diabetic gastroparesis -- it is usually a chronic condition. Treatment helps the person with diabetic gastroparesis manage the condition so that he or she can be as healthy and comfortable as possible.
(Click Diabetic Gastroparesis Treatment for more information about treatment options.)