What is the long-term outlook for patients with gastroparesis?

Most individuals with gastroparesis have persistent nausea that worsens after eating and may be associated with vomiting and abdominal pain. However, many others are so severely affected that they are not able to perform normal activities of daily living, and may have a decreased quality of life and significant psychological distress.. Studies evaluating the quality of life of individuals with gastroparesis have reported decreased physical and social functioning and reduced overall well-being. About 1 in 10 patients with gastroparesis is considered disabled. Studies have also shown that patients with gastroparesis have significantly reduced overall survival when compared with the general population.

Multiple symptoms can be associated with gastroparesis. With the delay in gastric emptying, affected individuals commonly suffer from nausea (93 percent), vomiting (68 to 84 percent), and abdominal pain (46 to 90 percent). The abdominal pain interferes with sleep in 80 percent of patients. * Patients also experience bloating, *** early fullness while eating, and loss of appetite.

As a result of the recurrent vomiting and decreased oral intake, patients with gastroparesis can develop dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities including low potassium levels and imbalances in the acid/base status of the blood. Blood sugar (glucose) levels fluctuate and are difficult to control, particularly in patients with diabetes. Malnutrition and unintentional weight loss can occur because patients eat fewer calories and absorb vitamins and nutrients poorly, and often require hydration and vitamin and nutritional supplementation. Emergency room visits and long, costly hospitalizations to provide hydration and nutritional support are common among these patients. Nutrition is often delivered directly into the intestines through feeding tubes, and in rare severe cases it may be necessary to deliver it directly into the blood.

Other complications are also associated with gastroparesis. Small bowel bacterial overgrowth (often called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO) may worsen the digestive symptoms, malnutrition, and vitamin deficiencies; therefore, it is important to monitor for the overgrowth and to treat as necessary. Decreased intake of calcium and vitamin D and poor absorption can lead to metabolic bone disease. Secondary gastrointestinal complications can develop such as gastroesophageal reflux, stomach ulcers, esophagitis, and tears of the esophagus. Some patients with gastroparesis are also at increased risk of blood clots.

In rare, severe cases of gastroparesis, patients may develop a bezoar, a mass of poorly digested food that forms in the stomach. This mass may cause a blockage that prevents the stomach contents from emptying into the small intestine, and affected individuals may experience worsening of their nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. It is estimated that 6 percent of gastroparesis patients develop a bezoar, and gastroparesis is the single most common cause of bezoar formation.

Although many people can live a relatively normal life with proper management of gastroparesis, some of the medical treatments are not tolerated by patients, and management options are limited. However, new medications and surgical techniques may provide some relief for difficult-to-treat symptoms in the future.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Name: The Digestive Disease National Coalition 507 Capitol Court, NE Suite 200
Washington, DC, 20002, United States
Phone: 202-544-7497 Fax : (202) 546-7105 Email: Url:
Name: International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders IFFGD PO Box 170864
Milwaukee, WI, 53217, United States
Phone: +1-414-964-1799 Toll Free: 1-888-964-2001 Fax : +1-414-964-7176 Email: Url:
Name: Association of Gastrointestinal Motility Disorders AGMD Bedford, MA, 01730, United States Phone: +1-781-275-1300 Email: Url:
Name: Gastroparesis Patient Association for Cures and Treatments, Inc. G-PACT 185-132 Newberry Commons
Etters, PA, 17319, United States
Toll Free: 1-888-874-7228 Email: Url:
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