Gastroparesis, a condition characterized by stomach paralysis, results from disturbances in the nerves and muscles of the stomach. Typically, the digestive process relies on strong muscular contractions to propel food through the digestive tract. However, in the case of gastroparesis, there is a significant slowdown or complete dysfunction in the stomach’s motility, leading to improper emptying.

The exact cause of gastroparesis is often unknown, although it can sometimes develop as a complication of diabetes or post-surgery. Additionally, specific medications, such as opioid pain relievers, certain antidepressants, high blood pressure drugs, and allergy medications, can hinder gastric emptying, resulting in similar symptoms. For individuals already afflicted with gastroparesis, these medications may exacerbate their condition.

Gastroparesis can disrupt normal digestion, giving rise to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. It can also create complications related to blood sugar levels and nutritional deficiencies. While there is no definitive cure for gastroparesis, dietary adjustments combined with medication can provide some relief.


Gastroparesis can often be asymptomatic in many individuals. However, when signs and symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • Indigestion.
  • Abdominal bloating.
  • Vomiting.
  • Nausea.
  • A sensation of feeling full quickly and for an extended duration.
  • Upper abdominal pain.
  • Repeated episodes of nausea and vomiting.
  • Regurgitation, characterized by spitting up undigested food particles.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Acid reflux and heartburn.
  • Fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
  • Constipation.
  • Unintentional weight loss and malnutrition.


Gastroparesis can be attributed to various factors, with one potential cause being damage to the vagus nerve, responsible for regulating stomach muscle contractions and the movement of food into the small intestine. When the vagus nerve is compromised, it loses its ability to transmit signals effectively to the stomach muscles, leading to delayed food transit from the stomach to the small intestine. Such nerve damage may result from conditions like diabetes or surgical procedures involving the stomach or small intestine.

Risk factors

Risk factors for developing gastroparesis include:

  • Gender: Women have a higher likelihood of developing gastroparesis compared to men.
  • Diabetes: Individuals with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing gastroparesis.
  • Previous Abdominal or Esophageal Surgery: History of abdominal or esophageal surgeries can elevate the risk of gastroparesis.
  • Infection: Gastroparesis can be triggered by infections, typically viral in nature.
  • Medications: Certain drugs, particularly narcotic pain medications, can slow down stomach emptying and contribute to the development of gastroparesis.
  • Scleroderma: People with scleroderma, a connective tissue disease, are more susceptible to gastroparesis.
  • Nervous System Disorders: Conditions like Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis, which affect the nervous system, can increase the risk of gastroparesis.
  • Hypothyroidism: Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) is another factor that can raise the risk of gastroparesis.