Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Does Your Nerve Damage Affect Your Stomach And Digestive System?

Today's post from (see link below) looks at a side effect of autonomic neuropathy that affects many people living with neuropathy, whether it's been diagnosed as 'autonomic' or not (autonomic = nerve damage that affects many of the involuntary functions of the body we take for granted). This article concentrates on diabetic neuropathy but digestive problems and their side effects can be felt by all people with nerve damage. Besides that, you may have other conditions and be taking other medications which affect how your body digests its food. It's pretty complex but the results are pretty much the same. Your stomach may not be able to empty itself of food and if it does, that food may not be digested properly, leading to problems such as weight loss, poor appetite, constipation, heartburn, stomach spasms and several others. This is called Gastroparesis and needs to be diagnosed so that appropriate measure can be taken. However, if the stomach's vagus nerve is damaged, this may be a long and exhausting process. Your doctor may also check your thyroid function, as this may also produce the same effects.This article looks at the various diagnostic tests that you may have to go through and is informative but really only a start - you may need to do more research of your own both before and after visiting the doctor.

Written by Dr. Leonel Porta 2017

Autonomic Neuropathy is one of the most common types of Neuropathy in diabetics. As the name implies, the autonomic nervous system is responsible for monitoring the functioning of the organs that act largely unconsciously and regulates bodily functions such as the heart rate, digestion, and respiratory rate.

When stomach function is impaired due to this nervous complication in diabetes, Gastroparesis (a condition in which your stomach cannot empty itself of food in a normal fashion) occurs. Today, we will focus on how to know if you have Gastroparesis and which tests will help the doctor diagnose this diabetic complication.

In DiabeTV we’ve talked about Gastroparesis and its complications, however, it is important to remember that Gastroparesis is a condition that consists of a delayed gastric emptying, that is, the stomach takes too long to empty its contents. What causes this? It’s caused by a damage to the vagus nerve, which controls the movement of food through the digestive system.

When a diabetic patient has complications such as Autonomic Neuropathy which are affecting the vagus nerve, the muscles of the stomach and intestines do not work properly, so that the movement of food is stopped or delayed. Remember, that when blood glucose levels remain raised for a prolonged time, damage occurs to the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to the nerves. Also, chemical changes can occur within nerves which alter their structure and function.

Some of the many symptoms that give indications of Gastroparesis, are nausea, vomiting of undigested food, poor appetite, weight loss, premature feeling of fullness when eating, bloating, heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux, and stomach spasms.

The tests that the doctor carry out to diagnose Gastroparesis are varied and depend on the severity of symptoms and conditions of the patients. These include:

Barium X-Rays: This test consists of an X-ray done after drinking a substance (barium) that allows the anatomy of the small intestine to be highlighted and outlined. The presence of a blockage in any part of the small intestine will result in the accumulation of the barium solution which shows the gastric delayed emptying.

Gastric Emptying Scan:
this is a nuclear medical test that shows whether the solid and liquid foods remain for too long in the stomach caused by a lowered emptying rate. The patient ingests a radio-labeled test meal food and by using a scanning technique the rate of gastric emptying is measured.

Gastric manometry: This is a test to measure the electrical and muscular activity of the stomach during the digestive process. For this test, an endoscope is inserted through the mouth into the stomach. This provides information about the strength and frequency with which the stomach muscles contract under fasting or feeding conditions.

Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy:
this examination allows an screening of several causes Gastroparesis which appear as symptoms. Under an anesthesia a thin flexible probe is introduced via the mouth into the stomach. The endoscope allows an inspection of the upper gastrointestinal tract, looking for possible ulcers, swelling, tumors, hernias, or other abnormalities. If necessary, samples for biopsies may be taken.

Like the upper endoscopy, an ultrasound or a blood test will allow your doctor to rule out other possible causes of delay in gastric emptying, different from Autonomic Neuropathy.

Treatments for Gastroparesis include the use of insulin, oral medications, changes in the diet, and modifying eating schedule. In more severe cases, feeding tubes orally or intravenously insertes can be used. Gastroparesis associated with diabetes is an entirely preventable complication. The priority of all diabetic patients should always be to control their blood glucose levels. Only then they will avoid unnecessary complications and ensure their own welfare.

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