Our digestive system relies on the smooth functioning of the muscles to break down food and move it along for proper absorption. But sometimes, things can go awry. Gastroparesis is a condition where the muscles in the stomach weaken, significantly slowing down this process. Food sits in the stomach for extended periods of time, leading to a cascade of uncomfortable symptoms.

Recent lawsuits, like the Ozempic stomach paralysis lawsuit, highlight the link between the diabetes drug Ozempic and stomach issues like gastroparesis. Early diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve the quality of life by managing gastroparesis and preventing complications. So, let’s dive into the six key signs that might indicate you have gastroparesis.

Common Symptoms of Gastroparesis

Gastroparesis can disrupt our digestive system in several ways, causing uncomfortable symptoms. Let’s explore six key signs that might indicate you have this condition.

  1. Nausea and vomiting: This is a common complaint, with nausea being a persistent feeling of unease in the stomach and vomiting bringing up food contents forcefully. The frequency and severity can vary, but persistent nausea or frequent vomiting can significantly impact daily life.
  2. Early satiety (feeling full quickly): Imagine taking a few bites and feeling like you’ve eaten a whole meal. That’s early satiety, a hallmark symptom of gastroparesis. It can significantly reduce your calorie intake and make it challenging to maintain a healthy weight.
  3. Upper abdominal pain or discomfort: A dull ache or gnawing pain in the upper part of your belly can be another sign. The pain may worsen after eating and might not respond to typical over-the-counter pain relievers.
  4. Bloating and swelling: This uncomfortable feeling of tightness or puffiness in the upper abdomen can be caused by trapped gas due to slow digestion in gastroparesis.
  5. Weight loss (unintentional): Since food sits in the stomach for extended periods, it can be difficult to consume enough calories. This can lead to unintended weight loss, which is a significant concern in some cases. The weight loss rate can vary depending on the severity of gastroparesis.
  6. Fluctuations in blood sugar levels: For people with diabetes, gastroparesis can make it even more challenging to manage blood sugar levels. The unpredictable emptying of food from the stomach can cause blood sugar spikes and dips.

Understanding the Causes of Gastroparesis

Usually, our stomach acts like a muscular mixing bowl, churning food into a liquid mixture and slowly releasing it into the small intestine for further digestion. In gastroparesis, however, this process goes awry. The stomach muscles weaken, leading to a condition called delayed gastric emptying. Food lingers in the stomach for extended periods of time, causing the symptoms we discussed earlier.

Several factors can contribute to gastroparesis:

  • Diabetic gastroparesis: High blood sugar levels in diabetes can damage the nerves that control the stomach muscles, leading to delayed emptying.
  • Post-surgical complications: Surgeries in the abdomen, especially those involving the stomach or esophagus, can sometimes damage the nerves or muscles responsible for stomach movement.
  • Viral infections: Viral infections, like those causing the common stomach flu, can temporarily affect the stomach muscles, leading to gastroparesis in some cases.
  • Neuromuscular disorders: Conditions that affect nerves and muscles throughout the body, like Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis, can also impact the stomach’s ability to function normally.

Woman having cramps indoors

It’s important to note that the exact cause of gastroparesis remains unknown in some cases. This is called idiopathic gastroparesis.

Importance of Early Diagnosis

While gastroparesis itself isn’t life-threatening, leaving it untreated can lead to complications. When food sits in the stomach for extended periods, it can cause malnutrition as your body struggles to absorb essential nutrients. Dehydration can also become a concern due to frequent vomiting or difficulty keeping fluids down. In severe cases, gastroparesis can even lead to intestinal blockages.

If you’re experiencing several of the signs we’ve discussed, especially persistent nausea, vomiting, or difficulty keeping food down, it’s crucial to seek medical attention. Early diagnosis allows your doctor to develop a personalized treatment plan to manage your symptoms and prevent complications.

To diagnose gastroparesis, doctors may use tests like a gastric emptying scan, which measures how quickly food leaves your stomach, or an endoscopy, which allows them to examine the inside of your digestive system.

Management Options for Gastroparesis

While there’s no cure for gastroparesis, various strategies can effectively manage symptoms and improve quality of life.


Doctors often recommend dietary modifications as a first step. This may involve eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day and avoiding foods high in fat, fiber, or roughage, which can be challenging to digest. Medications can also play a role, with some helping to stimulate the stomach muscles and improve emptying, while others target nausea and vomiting.

In severe cases where oral intake is significantly compromised, nutritional support may be necessary. This could involve supplements or, in rare instances, feeding tubes to ensure your body receives the nutrients it needs.

Living with Gastroparesis

Living with a chronic condition like gastroparesis can be frustrating and demanding. It requires adjustments to your daily routine and diet. However, you don’t have to navigate this alone.

Numerous resources and support groups are available to connect you with others who understand your challenges and can offer guidance and encouragement. With the right management plan and a positive outlook, you can effectively manage gastroparesis and live a fulfilling life.