Gastroparesis Awareness Month 2024- Symptoms, Causes, & Diagnosis

August is Gastroparesis Awareness Month. Gastroparesis is a condition wherein your stomach empties its contents into the small intestines very slowly. This condition is not because of some blockage but due to a malfunction in the nerves that serve this region. Here, Gastro refers to our stomach, whereas Paresis refers to nerve-related muscle weakness. 

 

The disease is uncommon among people. Out of every 100,000 people, only ten men and approximately 40 women suffer from the same. However, symptoms similar to gastroparesis occur in about one out of every four adults in the US. The problem can begin at any age, although the average age for the onset of the disease can be around 34-35. 

 

While gastroparesis is an uncommon disorder, it can be draining and exhausting for people suffering from the same. Lets understand more about the disorder and know what Gastroparesis Awareness Month 2024 holds for people. 

 

Gastroparesis Awareness Month 2024 

 

The month of August is dedicated to improving the understanding and managing the disorder. The disorder is known for delaying gastric emptying affecting the muscles in the stomach, preventing proper movement of food through our stomach and intestines. The muscles in our stomach are controlled by the vagus nerve, which contracts food movement through the gastrointestinal tract. When this nerve gets damaged, muscles in our stomach cannot function the way they usually should, meaning the food starts to move slowly at first, and at later stages, stops movement altogether. 

 

Symptoms 

 

The chronic condition is characterized by different symptoms varying between life-limiting to life-threatening. Some include the feeling of having a paralyzed stomach, often starting during or after consuming a meal, beginning to appear suddenly at times. 

 

Symptoms of gastroparesis disorder include:

 

- Nausea 

- Vomiting 

- Stomach fullness, even after a normal-sized meal

- Dry heaves or retching  

- Inability to finish a meal due to early fullness 

 

What causes Gastroparesis?

 

Most often, the cause behind gastroparesis is unknown and is sometimes termed idiopathic. Symptoms for the problem can begin after a viral infection, as seen in most cases. Other causes can include diabetes, certain medications, surgeries, and different kinds of illnesses. 

 

How do you know if you have Gastroparesis?

 

Diagnosis is usually done by a doctor, performing a physical exam and specific tests. You can tell your doctor about any previous surgeries or any medications that you are intaking. If the doctor does suspect the chronic disease, tests can further measure how fast your stomach empties into the small intestines to confirm the diagnosis. 

 

How widespread is the disorder?

 

As per different studies, the disorder affects an alarming number of Americans. However, the numbers can vary for different studies, between 500,000 to 5 million people. The National Institute of Healths research states this is only the tip of the iceberg, that is, gastroparesis. There are thousands of people experiencing symptoms close to the ones we have discussed above, but they remain undiagnosed owing to the lack of awareness. The symptoms also resemble those of celiac disease and GERD. 

 

Gastroparesis diagnosis and treatment

 

 

To diagnose gastroparesis, doctors during the Gastroparesis awareness month 2024 state that several tests need to be undertaken to rule out various conditions that may or may not be related to the problem. Several other issues can cause similar symptoms as we have discussed above. 

 

Diagnosis

 

Experts state that you might have to undertake the following tests:

 

Gastric Emptying Study Test 

 

To undertake this test, a patient will have to consume a light meal on the lines of toast and eggs containing tiny amounts of radioactive material. Doctors take the help of scanners that will be placed on your abdomen. These scanners can detect the movement of radioactive material in the food. The scanner will monitor the rate and time at which food consumed leaves your stomach. 

 

Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy 

The procedure helps examine your upper digestive system visually through a small camera.

 

Ultrasounds

Ultrasounds help diagnose the problems persisting in a persons gallbladder and kidneys and to understand if it is causing similar symptoms to gastroparesis. 

 

Upper Gastrointestinal Series 

A series of X-rays can also be undertaken wherein you will be made to drink Barium, a white, chalky liquid. The liquid will coat your digestive system, and if there are any forms of abnormalities, they will show up in your X-ray. 

 

Treatment 

Treatment for Gastroparesis includes medication and surgery (only if required). The foremost thing to note here is that if you are actually diagnosed with Gastroparesis, diet is a crucial aspect of managing the condition. 

 

On Gastroparesis awareness month 2024, if you are suffering from the condition, experts state the importance of a nutrient density-based diet that is easy on your digestive system. You will be required to intake small meals consisting of well-cooked meals, stripped of high-fat-based food. High-fat-based food items can delay the emptying of your stomach. 

 

Foods rich in fiber are somewhat difficult to digest and are also limited and sometimes completely eliminated in such conditions. Fruits and vegetables with naturally present nondigestible fiber content need to be cooked well to be served. In some cases, these foods might also be required to be converted into a puree for better absorption. 

 

Carbonated and fizzy beverages must be avoided at all costs, including alcoholic beverages. 

 

Gastroparesis Awareness Month 2024 promotes the importance of maintaining the vitality of our health as far as this condition is concerned. Pinpointing the diagnosis can sometimes be a little difficult, but once rightly done, it can help improve the overall life quality and other issues connected to this chronic disorder. Therefore, it is essential that you get screened for the conditions presented above, especially as you get older.

 

In addition to these treatment options, there are multiple prescription medicines that can help treat the symptoms of gastroparesis. Medicines like Prokinetic or promotility agents can help your stomach empty easily and quickly and can also improve nausea, bloating, and vomiting. However, you need to consult your physician before intaking such medicines. 

 

Dietary and lifestyle measures 

 

Nutritionists will help design a specific dietary plan to meet your personal requirements. If you have diabetes along with gastroparesis, your blood glucose level requires controlling as well. If your blood glucose levels go up after your stomach contents are emptied into the small intestines, this means you do not have gastroparesis since it is irregular in disorder. 

 

Procedures 

When a person has severe symptoms of gastroparesis, it can result in extreme dehydration. This can further lead to loss of essential nutrients and minerals from the body, often leading to an imbalance of electrolytes. Malnutrition is another consequence of the disorder getting severe, which can sometimes require hospitalization. Special treatment measures can help manage the disorder. These treatment measures can include:

 

- Enteral nutrition

- Parenteral nutrition 

- Gastric Electrical Stimulation 

- Other surgical procedures

 

Tips for living with Gastroparesis

 

 

In celebration of Gastroparesis Awareness Month 2024 this August, we have contacted experts and advocates to share some of their best tips for people living with the disorder. Gastroparesis is a terrible disorder, which often sees no cure. However, we hope that this article finds you and helps you navigate through your diagnosis process with the right advice. 

 

Read these tips to live a better life if you are suffering from this chronic disorder:

 

Baby Steps 

 

Suffering from Gastroparesis is overwhelming, especially when you are recently diagnosed. It might take many hits and trials to find out what you can include in your diet and what you cannot. Experts recommend keeping a small food journal to start your journey. You can write down the items you eat and see how your body reacts to them. You can start with either a paper and ink journal or download an app for the same. 

 

When you are writing and keeping track of the foods you consume, please also note down your symptoms. 

 

Every person is different, and everybody type is different. One thing that one person can tolerate might cause issues to the other person. 

 

Like, foods high in fiber content are not tolerated well by the digestive system of people with gastroparesis. They can cause serious health issues to people with the disorder. It will take some time, but you need to take baby steps to understand what your body can or cannot tolerate. 

 

Keep a check on your electrolytes.

 

Another thing you need to ensure is to keep a check on your electrolytes. Experts state that one way you can do this is to make your own electrolyte-based drinks instead of relying on Gatorade or Powerade. Other alternatives to these drinks can be Ensure or Boost, only if your body can tolerate them. 

 

Try to learn and make your own broth. It is essential to have it with you at all times when you are not able to digest your food properly. Broth can easily boost your electrolyte level by offering your body with necessary vitamins and minerals. 

 

Ginger candies can also help people suffering from nausea as a symptom, along with the drinks mentioned above. 

 

Find the proper medication. 

 

There are hundreds of medicines available as an option for treatment. However, you do not have to give up on finding the right one that suits your body. If your prescribed medication does not work out for you, talk to your doctor about the same. You might find a new medication or find a combination of different medicines that work for your case. 

 

If traditional medicines are not working out for you, and in fact, nothing is working in your case, dont be scared. Medical cannabis is another possible treatment option. Medical cannabis can help ease the symptoms; of course, the consumption of the same should be in control and limitation and with proper strains and terpenes. This method has helped people control nausea and vomiting and increase their appetite as well. Moreover, this also helps relieve the abdominal pain that comes along with the disorder. 

 

Final Word 

In 2015, Congresswoman Gwen Moore introduced the problem that affected thousands of Americans to the US House of Representatives. So, in honor of the National Gastroparesis Awareness Month 2024, lets learn more about the disorder and curtail it so it does not affect more peoples lives every day. 

 

Remember, if you have queries and questions about the disorder and other personal health conditions, talk with your physician. Take that first step and address your problems. 

 

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10 Strategies For Monitoring Cholesterol to Lower The Risks

 Heart disease prevention and management require a multifaceted approach; cholesterol monitoring is pivotal. While the fundamental strategies of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and regular cholesterol testing are essential, advanced methods can provide a more nuanced understanding of cardiovascular risk factors. Learn these ten advanced strategies, building upon the basics to empower individuals to master cholesterol management and reduce the risk of heart disease.1. Genetic TestingGenetic testing involves analyzing an individual's DNA to identify specific genetic variants associated with cholesterol metabolism. Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a hereditary condition characterized by mutations in genes responsible for cholesterol regulation, particularly the LDL receptor gene. Genetic testing can unveil these mutations, allowing healthcare professionals to diagnose FH and implement targeted interventions. Understanding an individual's genetic predisposition to high cholesterol enables personalized treatment plans. For instance, individuals with FH may require more aggressive cholesterol-lowering therapies, such as statins, at an earlier age. Lifestyle modifications, including a heart-healthy diet and regular exercise, are recommended.2. NMR LipoprofileNMR lip profile testing employs nuclear magnetic resonance technology to provide a detailed analysis of lipoprotein particles. This advanced method categorizes lipoproteins based on size and density, offering insights into the composition of cholesterol-carrying particles in the blood. Smaller, denser lipoprotein particles are associated with a higher risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular events. Identifying these particle characteristics allows for a more refined assessment of cardiovascular risk.3. Apolipoprotein B And A1 TestingApolipoproteins are proteins that bind to lipids, playing a crucial role in lipid transport and metabolism. Measuring Apolipoprotein B (ApoB) and Apolipoprotein A1 (ApoA1) levels provides a more accurate cardiovascular risk assessment than traditional cholesterol medicine. ApoB is a component of atherogenic lipoproteins, while ApoA1 is a component of protective high-density lipoproteins (HDL). A higher ratio of ApoB to ApoA1 is associated with increased cardiovascular risk. Healthcare professionals use these ratios to guide interventions, such as adjusting medicine for high cholesterol or recommending lifestyle modifications to address specific abnormalities in lipoprotein composition and reduce overall cardiovascular risk.4. Plant Sterol And Stanol SupplementsPlant sterols and stanols are naturally occurring compounds found in certain plant-based foods. These compounds have similar structures, allowing them to compete with cholesterol for absorption in the intestines. Individuals can effectively lower their levels by incorporating non-statin cholesterol treatment, cholesterol therapy, or plant sterol and stanol supplements into their diets. For LDL treatment, lipid-lowering therapy, plant sterol, and stanol supplements are particularly beneficial for individuals with elevated LDL cholesterol levels. These supplements are available in various forms, including spreads, fortified foods, and capsules. Also Read: More about cholesterol management5. Fiber Supplements Soluble fiber in oats, beans, and fruits has long been recognized for its cholesterol-lowering effects. Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol particles in the digestive tract, forming a gel-like substance that helps prevent cholesterol absorption. While dietary sources of fiber are crucial for heart health, incorporating soluble fiber supplements, such as psyllium, provides a concentrated and convenient way to enhance cholesterol treatment. Psyllium, derived from the seed husks of the Plantago ovata plant, is a joint-soluble fiber supplement. When mixed with water, psyllium forms a gel that traps cholesterol and bile acids, facilitating their excretion from the body. Including soluble fiber supplements in the diet can benefit individuals seeking specific cholesterol therapy6. Probiotics For Gut HealthThe gut microbiota, a diverse community of microorganisms in the digestive tract, plays a crucial role in various aspects of health, including cholesterol metabolism. Probiotics are live microorganisms that confer health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. Research suggests that certain probiotic strains may positively influence cholesterol levels by modulating the gut environment. Probiotics may impact cholesterol metabolism through several mechanisms. They can interfere with dietary cholesterol absorption, promote cholesterol conversion into less harmful forms, and influence the expression of cholesterol synthesis and transport genes. Incorporating probiotic-rich foods, such as yogurt and fermented products, or probiotic supplements can contribute to a healthy gut microbiota.7. Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM)Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) devices are typically used to track blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes. However, these devices can also offer valuable insights into the relationship between blood sugar and cholesterol metabolism. Elevated blood sugar levels have been associated with adverse changes in lipid profiles, contributing to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Integrating CGM into cholesterol management allows individuals to monitor real-time blood sugar fluctuations. By identifying patterns and correlations between blood sugar levels and changes in cholesterol, individuals can make informed decisions about their diet, exercise, and cholesterol medication management. Check This Out: Lifestyle Changes to Control Increased Cholesterol8. Omega-3 Fatty Acid SupplementationOmega-3 fatty acids, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are polyunsaturated fats in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. These essential fatty acids are renowned for their cardiovascular benefits, including the ability to lower triglyceride levels and reduce inflammation. While dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids are crucial, supplementation with high-quality fish oil capsules can provide concentrated doses of EPA and DHA. These supplements are often recommended for individuals with elevated triglyceride levels or those seeking additional cardiovascular protection.9. Advanced Imaging TechniquesCoronary Calcium Scoring: This non-invasive imaging test uses computed tomography (CT) to detect and quantify calcium deposits in coronary arteries. Calcium deposits are associated with atherosclerosis, and a higher calcium score indicates a higher risk of coronary artery disease. Carotid Intima-Media Thickness (CIMT): This ultrasound-based test measures the thickness of the innermost layers of the carotid arteries. Increased thickness is associated with atherosclerosis and can be an early indicator of cardiovascular risk. CIMT measurements provide insights into arterial health, allowing for targeted interventions to prevent the progression of atherosclerosis.10. Interval Training For FitnessHigh-intensity interval Training (HIIT) is an advanced exercise strategy that involves alternating short bursts of intense physical activity with periods of rest or lower-intensity exercise. HIIT has gained popularity due to its efficiency in improving cardiovascular health, including positive effects on lipid profiles. HIIT can improve cardiovascular risk factors, including increased HDL cholesterol, reduced low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and improved triglyceride levels. The intensity and variability of HIIT stimulate the cardiovascular system, promoting adaptations that contribute to better lipid metabolism and overall heart health.NEXLIZET Is The Most Efficient SolutionNEXLIZET is a cholesterol drug formulated to fight bad cholesterol and improve the body's overall functioning. Following are the details about this medicine for high cholesterol: Dual Action Composition: NEXLIZET is a once-daily, nonstatin pill containing bempedoic acid to effectively lower LDL-C when incorporated into a healthy diet and existing lipid-lowering regimens. Targeted Condition: Adults with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia treatment (an inherited condition leading to high bad cholesterol) or those with established cardiovascular disease linked to elevated Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. Bempedoic Acid: Works by reducing the production of cholesterol in the liver. Uncertain Outcomes: While NEXLIZET demonstrates promising cholesterol-lowering capabilities, its ability to decrease complications like heart attacks or strokes still needs to be determined and requires further research. Guidelines for Usage: Always adhere to prescribed dosages by your healthcare practitioner. Take one pill orally once daily, with or without food. Swallow the NEXLIZET tablet whole; cutting, chewing, or crushing is not recommended. Also Read: Top Foods to Reduce LDL Bad CholesterolConclusionMastering cholesterol treatment and management requires a well-thought-out plan and evolving approach. While traditional strategies lay the foundation, advanced methods offer a deeper understanding of individual risks and provide targeted interventions. As technology and research continue to advance, staying informed and incorporating these advanced methods into your heart health plan can pave the way for more resilient cardiovascular system. Always consult healthcare professionals for personalized advice and guidance for your health profile.