Gastroparesis and Diabetes


What is gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis is a condition in which your stomach muscles’ motility is impaired, meaning the muscles are not strong enough to empty the stomach properly. In a healthy individual, the stomach muscles can successfully move food through the digestive tract.

What are the symptoms?

  • heartburn
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • poor appetite
  • bloating
  • poor blood sugar control

Untreated gastroparesis can mean that food remains in the stomach too long, which can lead to bacteria and other obstructions in the stomach. 

What is the connection between gastroparesis and diabetes?

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can cause gastroparesis, in fact, diabetes is the most common known cause of the condition. Gastroparesis can be caused by damage to the vagus nerve, which controls the stomach muscles. It is believed that some combination of high blood sugar and insulin deficiency cause this damage to the vagus nerve. 

What is the treatment for gastroparesis?

After diagnosis, a doctor may prescribe medication to help manage the condition. In addition, symptoms can be reduced through modifying one’s diet.

If you are diagnosed with gastroparesis, your doctor may suggest that you eat more small meals throughout the day instead of a few big meals to make it easier for the stomach to digest. In addition, those with gastroparesis are advised to avoid high-fat and high-fiber foods, as they take a longer time to digest. Furthermore, it’s often easier for those with gastroparesis to eat soft pureed foods like soups or liquids rather than hard, solid foods.

How can I prevent gastroparesis?

People who eat healthy, exercise and stay hydrated are less at risk for developing gastroparesis. In addition, keeping steady blood sugar levels can help prevent the damage to the vagus nerve that causes the condition.

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WRITTEN BY BT1 Editorial Team, POSTED 09/19/17, UPDATED 12/29/22

This piece was authored collaboratively by the Beyond Type 1 Editorial Team.