Treating gastroparesis begins with identifying and treating the underlying condition. If diabetes is causing your gastroparesis, your doctor can work with you to help you control it. Beyond this, other gastroparesis treatments may include the following.
Changes to your diet
Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian who can work with you to find foods that are easier for you to digest, so that you're more likely to get enough calories and nutrients from the food you eat. A dietitian might suggest that you try to:
- Eat smaller meals more frequently
- Chew food thoroughly
- Eat well-cooked fruits and vegetables rather than raw fruits and vegetables
- Avoid fibrous fruits and vegetables, such as oranges and broccoli, which may cause bezoars
- Choose mostly low-fat foods, but if you can tolerate them, add small servings of fatty foods to your diet
- If liquids are easier for you to swallow, try soups and pureed foods
- Drink water throughout each meal
- Exercise gently after you eat, such as going for a walk
- Avoid carbonated drinks, alcohol and smoking
Medications to treat gastroparesis may include:
- Medications to stimulate the stomach muscles. These medications include metoclopramide (Reglan) and erythromycin (Eryc, E.E.S). Metoclopramide has a risk of serious side effects. People tend to become tolerant to erythromycin. A newer medication, domperidone, with fewer side effects, is also available with restricted access. Cisapride also is used but is available only in certain settings.
Medications to control nausea and vomiting. Anti-emetic medications include prochlorperazine (Compro), thiethylperazine and diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Unisom). A class of medications that includes ondansetron (Zofran) is sometimes used to help nausea and vomiting.
Researchers continue to investigate new medications to treat gastroparesis.
Some people with gastroparesis may be unable to tolerate any food or liquids. In these situations, doctors may recommend a feeding tube (jejunostomy tube) be placed in the small intestine. Or doctors may recommend a gastric venting tube to help relieve pressure from gastric contents.
Feeding tubes can be passed through your nose or mouth or directly into your small intestine through your skin. The tube is usually temporary and is only used when gastroparesis is severe or when blood sugar levels can't be controlled by any other method. Some people may require an IV (parenteral) feeding tube that goes directly into a vein in the chest.
Jan. 15, 2014
- Camilleri M, et al. Clinical guideline: Management of gastroparesis. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2013;108:18.
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- Gastroparesis. American College of Gastroenterology. http://patients.gi.org/topics/gastroparesis/. Accessed Oct. 27, 2014.
- Camilleri M. Gastroparesis: Etiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 27, 2014.
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