Gastroparesis is a condition in which your stomach cannot empty itself of food in a normal fashion. It can be caused by damage to the vagus nerve, which regulates the digestive system by controlling the muscles in the stomach responsible for moving food through the system.
There are a number of things that may contribute to or cause gastroparesis however the cause is unknown in a majority of individuals. Long-standing diabetes is the most common known cause of gastroparesis, although only a small percentage of people with diabetes will actually develop gastroparesis
Descriptions of patients with gastroparesis and the concerns they have with their disorder has been lacking. A recent survey sponsored by the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), was undertaken to better understand the patient experience with the goal of helping to guide healthcare providers, treatment developers, and regulators to more effectively meet patient needs.
About the Survey
A confidential online survey instrument was administered to 1423 adults between February and May, 2015 to individuals reporting a diagnosis of gastroparesis.
- Gastroparesis leads to a variety of symptoms, and decreased quality of life
- Social function and general health are most negatively affected
- Respondents report nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain as most important symptoms to improve with treatment
- Onset of gastroparesis symptoms is gradual in 52% and sudden in 48% of respondents.
- On average the respondents report having gastroparesis symptoms for 9.3 years
- On average the diagnosis of gastroparesis was made 5.0 years after symptoms began
- Over half (52%) report their symptoms as being severe or very severe
- Bodily pain is severe or extremely severe in nearly half of respondents
- Nearly half the respondents expect their health to get worse over time
- A large number of respondents find out about treatments, not only from their physician, but also using the Internet, including social media
- Respondents report using multiple categories of drugs and other therapeutic approaches to treat their gastroparesis symptoms
- Most respondents (60%) are not satisfied with available treatments for gastroparesis
- Side effects from therapies are frequently reported
- Severe side effects occur most commonly with prokinetic agents, analgesic (pain) medications, and surgical procedures
- Complimentary and Alternative Medicine therapies have the least reported side effects and highest satisfaction rate
- Respondents most want specific treatments for their disorder
The IFFGD concluded that the results of the survey present a picture of a chronic, debilitating illness that negatively impacts daily living, for which there are few satisfactory treatments. More needs to be done to improve care and treatment for this patient population.
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