Causes of Gastroparesis in Adults

Causes of Gastroparesis in Adults

Causes of gastroparesis in adults - Gastroparesis is a complex gastrointestinal disorder characterized by delayed stomach emptying, leading to a range of symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating, and discomfort. Understanding the causes, risk factors, and available treatment options for gastroparesis in adults is crucial for effective management and improved quality of life. In this article, we explore the various factors contributing to gastroparesis, identify common risk factors, and discuss the available treatments that can alleviate symptoms and enhance daily functioning.

Causes of Gastroparesis in Adults

Gastroparesis in adults can have various causes, and understanding these causes is crucial for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Here are some of the common causes of gastroparesis in adults:
  1. Diabetes: One of the primary causes of gastroparesis in adults is diabetes mellitus. Long-standing diabetes is the most commonly known cause of gastroparesis. About 25% of gastroparesis patients have diabetic gastroparesis, which occurs due to nerve damage in the stomach caused by uncontrolled sugar levels.
  2. Viral Infections: Some cases of gastroparesis are caused by viral infections affecting the gastrointestinal (GI) system, such as viral gastroenteritis. Viruses like norovirus, rotavirus, and even COVID-19 can be implicated.
  3. Surgeries: Gastroparesis can occur as a result of surgeries that affect the stomach. Damage to the vagus nerve, which controls stomach function, is often considered a cause. Surgeries like Nissen fundoplication (for GERD or hiatal hernia) and cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) can lead to gastroparesis.
  4. Medications: Certain medications can impair stomach motility and contribute to gastroparesis. Examples include narcotic pain relievers, anticholinergic/antispasmodic agents, calcium channel blockers, certain antidepressants, and some medications for diabetes.
  5. Other Illnesses: Neurological conditions like Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis can affect the nerves supplying the stomach, leading to gastroparesis. Connective tissue diseases such as lupus and scleroderma can also weaken the smooth muscles in the stomach, causing gastroparesis.
  6. Cellular Changes: Researchers are studying changes in the cells responsible for controlling stomach contractions (interstitial cells of Cajal) as a potential contributor to gastroparesis. Additionally, alterations in nerve cells and immune cells are being investigated for their role in the disease process.

It's important to note that the causes mentioned above are potential factors associated with gastroparesis. In many cases, the cause remains unknown (idiopathic). More research is needed to fully understand the underlying causes and risk factors for developing gastroparesis.

Please keep in mind that this information is based on the provided article and may not encompass all possible causes of gastroparesis. Consulting with a healthcare professional is recommended for a comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis.

Risk Factors for Gastroparesis in Adults

Several risk factors influence the development of gastroparesis in adults. Gender is one such factor, with women being more susceptible to this condition than men. Hormonal factors, although not yet fully understood, may contribute to the increased prevalence of gastroparesis in women. Age is another significant risk factor, as stomach motility tends to decrease with advancing age. Older adults are therefore more prone to developing gastroparesis due to age-related changes in gastric function.

Certain medical conditions are also associated with an elevated risk of gastroparesis in adults. Neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis can affect the nerves that control stomach motility, leading to gastroparesis. Additionally, connective tissue diseases like scleroderma can weaken the smooth muscles of the stomach, impairing its ability to contract and propel food.

Treatments for Gastroparesis in Adults

Managing gastroparesis involves a multifaceted approach tailored to the individual's specific needs. While there is no cure for gastroparesis, several treatment options can help alleviate symptoms and improve overall quality of life.

Dietary modifications play a pivotal role in managing gastroparesis. Consuming low-fiber and low-fat foods can ease the workload on the stomach and facilitate digestion. Additionally, eating smaller, more frequent meals and opting for liquid or pureed options can promote better gastric emptying and minimize discomfort.

Medications are often prescribed to manage the symptoms associated with gastroparesis. Prokinetic agents, such as metoclopramide and domperidone, enhance stomach motility and facilitate more efficient emptying. Antiemetic medications, such as ondansetron, can help control nausea and vomiting, providing relief for individuals with gastroparesis. In some cases, pain medications may be prescribed to alleviate discomfort associated with the condition.

Medical procedures and interventions may be recommended for individuals with severe or refractory gastroparesis. Gastric electrical stimulation (GES) is a procedure where a device is implanted to regulate stomach contractions and improve gastric emptying. This can be beneficial for individuals who do not respond to medication alone. Another intervention is the use of botulinum toxin injections to relax the pyloric muscles, allowing for improved passage of food from the stomach to the small intestine.

In severe cases where other treatments have been ineffective, surgical options may be considered. Gastrojejunostomy, a surgical procedure that bypasses the stomach and connects the small intestine directly to the jejunum, can improve gastric emptying and alleviate symptoms. In rare and extreme cases, partial or total gastrectomy, the removal of a portion or the entire stomach, may be necessary.

Understanding the causes of gastroparesis in adults, risk factors, and available treatments is essential for effective management and improved quality of life. Diabetes, surgical procedures, certain medications, gender, age, and underlying medical conditions can contribute to the development of gastroparesis. Treatment options include dietary modifications, medications, medical procedures, and, in severe cases, surgery. It is crucial for individuals experiencing symptoms of gastroparesis to seek medical guidance and support in order to receive an accurate diagnosis and develop an individualized treatment plan. With proper management and ongoing care, individuals with gastroparesis can find relief from their symptoms and regain control over their daily lives.
dr. Sam Elline, SpOG
dr. Sam Elline, SpOG Sam Elline is someone who provides medical services related to pregnancy, childbirth, and women's reproductive health. Please contact via Twitter.