Written by Sandra Solinas | Gastroparesis patient and advocate
If you are reading this chances are you are probably are about to be diagnosed with Gastroparesis or are newly diagnosed with Gastroparesis – You are not alone!
So I understand you may wonder what it is as well has have a few questions, what to expect on the journey to being diagnosed and once you have been diagnosed.
You have a digestive motility disorder that is called Gastroparesis.
Unfortunately there currently is no cure for this condition hence the reason why we not only need awareness but funding to work towards finding a cure for Gastroparesis.
Some of the symptoms you may experience are:
- Pain in the upper abdomen or stomach (cramp, spasm)
- Heartburn and reflux
- Vomiting up undigested food sometimes several hours after meal)
- Early satiety, a feeling of fullness after only eating a few bites
- Rapid weight Loss a result of poor absorption or low calorie intake
- Abdominal bloating
- Lack of appetite
Some of the symptoms experienced with gastroparesis will overlap with other conditions therefore the doctors and specialists need to exclude all other possibilities to ensure that nothing is missed and this does take time and you will possibly be put through what may seem like a battery of tests such as GES (Gastric Empty Study), upper GI endoscopy, Ultrasound, Barium X-ray, Breath Test etc.
Different doctors will run an array of tests. It is important though to be open and honest when explaining what you are experiencing in terms of symptoms to ensure that nothing is being missed. Some tests may turn out to be fruitless or we may not see the relevance to it but these are the starting point to getting a diagnosis. Patience, even though it is hard, will help you through the process.
Make sure to keep a copy of test results in your records and have the health professional explain the significance of the procedure and your results.
If you are not satisfied or confused, you can always get a second opinion.
The gold-standard of gastroparesis diagnosis is a gastric emptying study. This test measures how long it takes food to travel through your stomach and if there are residuals afterwards. This involves ingesting an egg sandwich laced with a small amount of ingestable radioactive substance and monitoring over a 6-8 hour period.
The gastric emptying times does not always match severity of symptoms. Remembering that you can be very symptomatic but also have a ‘normal’ gastric empty time. This can be due to
- You are on medication that has not been stopped OR
- The medication that you are on is working OR
- Gastric emptying and severity change from day-to-day
I can truly understand how you must be feeling at this point in time, physically and mentally exhausted. But it is important that you look after yourself emotionally. Support is integral and the key to clarity and understanding this insidious condition. A place where you can ask questions and have the support of like minded persons also battling the same condition as you: Gastroparesis- The inside story provides support to both sufferers and their carers.
Gastroparesis Australia provides support through links and resources from patients who have experienced what you are feeling now and grew stronger from it!