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What is gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis, also called delayed gastric emptying, is a disorder that slows or stops the movement of food from your stomach to your small intestine. Normally, after you swallow food, the muscles in the wall of your stomach grind the food into smaller pieces and push them into your small intestine to continue digestion. When you have gastroparesis, your stomach muscles work poorly or not at all, and your stomach takes too long to empty its contents. Gastroparesis can delay digestion, which can lead to various symptoms and complications.

How common is gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis is not common. Out of 100,000 people, about 10 men and about 40 women have gastroparesis1. However, symptoms that are similar to those of gastroparesis occur in about 1 out of 4 adults in the United States.

Who is more likely to get gastroparesis?

You are more likely to get gastroparesis if you

  • have diabetes
  • had surgery on your esophagus, stomach, or small intestine, which may injure the vagus nerve . The vagus nerve controls the muscles of the stomach and small intestine.
  • had certain cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy on your chest or stomach area

What other health problems do people with gastroparesis have?

People with gastroparesis may have other health problems, such as

  • diabetes
  • scleroderma
  • hypothyroidism
  • nervous system disorders , such as migraine , Parkinson’s disease , and multiple sclerosis
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • eating disorders
  • amyloidosis

What are the complications of gastroparesis?

Complications of gastroparesis may include

  • dehydration due to repeated vomiting
  • malnutrition due to poor absorption of nutrients
  • blood glucose, also called blood sugar, levels that are harder to control, which can worsen diabetes
  • low calorie intake
  • bezoars
  • losing weight without trying
  • lower quality of life

[1] Jung HK, Choung RS, Locke GR III, et al. The incidence, prevalence, and outcomes of patients with gastroparesis in Olmsted County, Minnesota, from 1996 to 2006. Gastroenterology. 2009;136(4):1225–1233.

[2] Drossman DA, Li Z, Andruzzi E, et al. U.S. householder survey of functional gastrointestinal disorders. Prevalence, sociodemography, and health impact. Digestive Diseases and Sciences. 1993;38(9):1569–1580.

[3] Camilleri M, Dubois D, Coulie B, et al. Prevalence and socioeconomic impact of upper gastrointestinal disorders in the United States: results of the US Upper Gastrointestinal Study. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2005;3(6):543–552.

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

The NIDDK would like to thank:
Michael Camilleri, M.D., Mayo Clinic, Rochester

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