Gastroparesis is essentially nerve and muscle damage that causes the stomach to not be able to empty its contents (like food and liquids) at a normal rate. Chronic nausea and vomiting is one of the most frustrating and irritating of the Gastroparesis symptoms. When the food that those with Gastroparesis try to eat ends up sitting on their stomach because the nerves and muscles in the stomach are damaged, the food can rot causing toxic poisons to sit in the stomach. Gastroparesis (stomach paralysis) can also cause nausea because the food has nowhere to go, and in many cases it can also lead to vomiting. Nausea and vomiting can make it difficult to have conversations, it can make leaving the house a complicated task, and it can cause embarrassment when trying to socialize in public. Merriam-Webster dictionary explains that nausea is “a stomach distress with distaste for food and an urge to vomit” (See http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nausea for more information), while vomiting is “an act or instance of disgorging the contents of the stomach through the mouth” (see http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vomit). Nausea alone can cause a lack of appetite that often leads to weight loss and malnutrition while vomiting can cause a serious array of side effects that affect the quality of life and can increase the risk of gaining other illnesses. It’s important to know how chronic nausea and vomiting affects the body and what you can do to treat it to help avoid Gastroparesis complications.
Dehydration is the loss of water in the human body. The human body needs a specific percentage of water to keep its organs up and running to its full potential. The average human body contains approximately 60% of water. Water is needed to transport nuisance to organs through the blood stream. One of the most common side-effects of nausea and vomiting is dehydration. Dehydration can cause people to become lethargic and it can lead to heart arrhythmia problems where the heart beats too quickly which can lead to sudden death. Dehydration can cause fevers, weakness, dry mouth, excessive thirst, dizziness, headaches, confusion, lightheadedness, and even fainting. One of the easiest symptoms to spot for dehydration is the lack of urination for 8-12 hours or when your urine looks dark in color. Those who are vomiting need even more water than those who aren’t because they are losing the amount of water faster than they are taking it in. The only way to treat Dehydration is by drinking clear fluids or in serious cases, by visiting your local emergency room for IV fluid hydration.
Vomiting can cause a large increase in the amount of trips people have to take to the dentist. Vomiting can cause an increase is mouth diseases, tooth decay, and can even lead to an array of mouth sores such as canker sores. Due to the amount of acidity in stomach acid and vomit, vomiting can strip away tooth enamel. The acid in vomiting can also cause teeth to turn yellow; it can cause numerous cavities and serious gum diseases and overall tooth decay. Vomiting can lead to tooth sensitivity with hot and cold sensations. It’s important to combat the effects that vomiting can have orally by visiting your dentist (for more information on how to build up tooth enamel visit: http://www.ehow.com/list_7176515_products-rebuild-enamel-teeth.html
Chronic vomiting increases the risk of aspirating and can cause aspiration. Aspiration as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “the taking of foreign matter into the lungs with the respiratory current” (See http://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/aspiration
). Aspiration can be particularly dangerous when food, beverages, stomach acid, or anything remaining in the stomach is expelled up through the respiratory system causing an inability to breath. Ehow.com states that a “Pulmonary aspiration happens when your ability to swallow is compromised enough to cause you to breathe liquids into your lungs. This can cause serious complications, including choking and lung infections” (see http://www.ehow.com/how_5701747_control-pulmonary-aspiration-diseases.html
). Aspirations and Pulmonary aspirations can cause pneumonia and very serious infections which can be life threatening. Foods that are difficult to swallow or pills that seem to “get stuck” can increase the risk of aspiration. The most serious type of aspiration is when stomach acid is introduced into the lungs, if you are at a high risk for aspiration it’s important to take the extra steps to talk to your doctor about other forms of being fed such as feeding tubes and TPN.
Another serious side-effect of chronic nausea and vomiting is nutrient depletion and malnutrition. Sodium, electrolytes, potassium, and other vitamins and minerals are essential to keeping your body and organs up and functioning. According to livestrong.com a decrease in potassium can lead to heart arrhythmia problems that can cause lung paralysis and in some severe cases, even heart attacks (Visit http://www.livestrong.com/article/250841-symptoms-of-a-lack-of-potassium/
for more information). Potassium is also known to decrease the muscles ability to function properly and can attribute to breaking down muscles all together causing muscle fatigue, muscle failure, and a decrease in organ function leading to organ failure. Visithttp://www.greensnoteasy.com/2013/05/weight-gain-malnutrition-vitamins.html
for more information on malnutrition.
One of the biggest concerns with vomiting is damage to the esophagus. As stated by biology.about.com “Anatomically and functionally, the esophagus is the least complex section of the digestive tube. Its role in digestion is simple: to convey boluses of food from the pharynx to the stomach” (For the full article visit http://biology.about.com/library/organs/blpathodigest5.htm
). When the stomach acid eats away at the esophagus, the esophagus can become thin. The thinner the esophagus becomes the easier it is to tare, or rupture it. The esophagus plays a vital role in aiding in digestion and damage to the esophagus can have deadly consequences and can lead to illness such as cancer.
Due to the fact that there is no cure for Gastroparesis, decreasing nausea and vomiting is often aimed at symptom management rather than treatment. Vomiting is the body’s method of expelling food out of the digestive system as quickly as possible to reduce the amount damage being done on the digestive tract. As painful and frustrating it is, not having the ability to vomit can be equally distressing. Controlling nausea and vomiting that’s been caused by Gastroparesis should always begin with the most basic of treatment and working the way up to more drastic measures. Simply changing your diet to a diet that’s more Gastroparesis friendly can do wonders in reducing nausea and vomiting. Choosing to stick with a low-fat, low-fiber diet will help the stomach’s ability to empty at a quicker rate. For more information on the Gastroparesis diet visit:http://www.greensnoteasy.com/2013/01/gastroparesis-signs-symptoms-and-gp-diet.html
for more information on the importance of a low-fiber diet for Gastroparesis visit:http://www.greensnoteasy.com/2013/05/what-you-didnt-know-about-fiber.html
The A-B-C’s of nausea and vomiting treatments:
· Baths- taking a cool bath (not a hot one) can help reduce the symptoms of nausea and help with relaxation.
· Chewing- Remember to chew your food slowly and chew it well to help aid in better digestion.
· Drinks- Drink cool, clear liquids that are thin but vitamin enriched such as apple juice.
· Eating- eat frequent, 6 small meals throughout the day instead of 3 larger meals to avoid having large amounts of food in your stomach at one time.
· Fullness- avoid feeling overly full by avoiding binge eating when you’re feeling well as binge eating can increase nausea and vomiting and keeps the cycle going.
· Hot tea like ginger tea, ginger ale, and peppermint tea can aid in reducing nausea and when added with honey or sugar, it can help increase your intake of calories.
· If nausea is a problem in the morning, try eating small bites of crackers. Gastroparesis can cause a lack of appetite but it doesn’t always reduce the amount of hunger patients feel. Severe hunger can cause nausea and abdominal pain so eating small bits can help regulate those feelings and you back on track.
· Just relax, try not to think about how your feeling and try your best to get your mind on something else. Try watching a movie or reading a book.
· Keep your head and body calm, still and relaxed. Reducing movement can aid in reducing nausea.
· Lighting, trying dimming the lights to avoid light sensitivity with nausea
· Make yourself take small sips of clear liquids to beat dehydration that can irritate symptoms of nausea
· Opening up the windows- Often fresh air can help aid in reducing nausea
· Rest- Be sure to get the proper rest to help your body fight nausea and vomiting. Not getting the correct amount of sleep can aggravate nausea and vomiting.
· Try to avoid odors that bother you, such as cooking smells, smoke, or perfume.
· Voice your concerns to your doctor if your nausea and vomiting is getting out of hand
· Wear clothing that isn’t too tight or constricting around your stomach.
· You- realize that what works for someone else may not work for you. Don’t give up and keep trying until you find something that works for you.