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Gastroparesis is a condition that causes the stomach to hold its contents too long and can be a diabetes-related complication that can cause early fullness, bloating, nausea and vomiting.

Gastroparesis is a condition that affects the muscles in the stomach. Stomach muscles tighten to squeeze food through the digestive tract. When someone has gastroparesis, the muscles in their stomach have trouble functioning, which causes food to move through the stomach more slowly than it should.

This can lead to problems such as nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Someone may feel “stuffed” and bloated after eating just a small meal. Additionally, since their body is absorbing fewer nutrients, gastroparesis can also lead to malnutrition if left untreated.

Diabetes is the most common cause of gastroparesis with up to 5% of people with type 1 diabetes and 1% of people with type 2 diabetes developing the condition over a 10 period in one study. This is because high levels of blood sugar can damage the nerves that control the muscles in the stomach. 

When these nerves are damaged, the muscles in the stomach don't work properly, which can cause gastroparesis.

Here are some tips for people with diabetes who also have gastroparesis: 

  • Eat small, frequent meals instead of large meals. This can help keep the amount of food in the stomach at a manageable level.
  • Avoid foods that are high in fat and fiber, as these can slow down the movement of food through the stomach.
  • Drink lots of water – 6 to 8 cups of water a day are recommended for adults. 
  • Avoid lying down right after eating. This can cause stomach contents to move into the esophagus, leading to heartburn and other problems.
  • Take diabetes medications as prescribed. High blood sugar levels can make gastroparesis worse, so it's important to keep blood sugar levels under control.
  • Consult with a doctor about medications that can help improve stomach motility. These medications can help the stomach muscles work better, which can help food move through the stomach more quickly.
  • Manage your stress and anxiety, as these can contribute to stomach problems.
  • Limit or avoid smoking and alcohol.
  • Try to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week.
  • Get regular check-ups with a doctor, as they can help monitor diabetes and gastroparesis and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.

Overall, diabetes and gastroparesis are two different conditions, but they are related. People with diabetes are more likely to develop gastroparesis, but by managing diabetes and following the tips above, individuals can improve their symptoms and quality of life.