What is diabetic gastroparesis?

Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics

Gastroparesis occurs when the nerves involved with digestion are damaged. Food stays in the stomach for a longer period of time rather than getting digested and moving into the intestines leading to problems such as heartburn, constipation, weight loss, etc. Diabetic Gastroparesis can be caused by uncontrolled, high blood sugars over a prolonged period of time.

Gastroparesis is a type of neuropathy (nerve damage) in which food is delayed from leaving the stomach.
  • This nerve damage can be caused by long periods of high blood sugar.
  • Delayed digestion makes the management of diabetes more difficult.
  • It can be treated with insulin management, drugs, diet, or in severe cases, a feeding tube.
Gastroparesis is a disorder affecting people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in which the stomach takes too long to empty its contents (delayed gastric emptying). The vagus nerve controls the movement of food through the digestive tract. If the vagus nerve is damaged or stops working, the muscles of the stomach and intestines do not work normally, and the movement of food is slowed or stopped.

Diabetes can damage the vagus nerve if blood glucose levels remain high over a long period of time. High blood glucose causes chemical changes in nerves and damages the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to the nerves.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.