Gastroparesis is one of the complications that can occur with diabetes. It causes the stomach to empty much more slowly than it should. The contractions that occur in the muscles of the stomach don’t contract as strongly or quickly as normal, which interferes with the digestive process. Gastroparesis can cause uncomfortable symptoms, like nausea. But, more importantly, it can make it harder for diabetics to control blood sugar levels or get the nutrition they need.
The movement of food through the stomach is controlled by the vagus nerve. In the same way that diabetes can damage other nerves in the body, it can also damage the vagus nerve. Over time, high blood sugar levels can lead to chemical changes in the nerve and damage to the blood vessels that feed the nerve with nutrients and oxygen.
Gastroparesis can make it hard to control blood sugar levels because when food that sits in the stomach finally moves into the small intestine, it can make blood sugar levels rise. In addition, food that is delayed can ferment and cause a buildup of bacteria. It can also get hard, forming a bezoar that can block the small intestine.
Diabetics with gastroparesis may require changes in their treatment to better control blood sugar levels. They may need to take insulin more often or change the times at which they take it. They may also need to check blood sugar more often to watch for a delayed increase in blood sugar level.
Symptoms of Gastroparesis
In some cases, people who have gastroparesis don’t experience any noticeable symptoms. When they do, symptoms can include:
- Feeling full after just a couple of bites.
- Vomiting food that has not been digested hours after eating.
- Weight loss.
- Spasms in the stomach wall.
- Low appetite.
Eating with Gastroparesis
People with gastroparesis can sometimes ease symptoms by changing the way they eat. Some tips for eating with the condition are:
- Eat smaller amounts at one time.
- Stick to low-fat and low-fiber foods.
- Eat foods that are soft and cooked through.
- Eat slowly and while sitting upright.
- Go for a walk after eating.
The doctor may recommend working with a dietician to create an eating plan that is specific to the person’s condition(s) and their eating preferences.
Home care providers can assist older adults with gastroparesis due to diabetes. A home care provider can remind them to take any medications the doctor prescribes for the disease and remind them to check their blood sugar more frequently. Home care providers can also prepare meals and snacks that conform to the eating plan suggested by the doctor or dietician. In addition, a home care provider can take a walk with your aging relative after meals, ensuring they don’t fall and giving them some company.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering Home Care Services in San Diego CA, talk to the caring staff at Cambrian Home Care today. (562) 498-1800 / (877) 390-4300.