Spotlight: Digestive Tract Paralysis Awareness Month
Digestive Tract Paralysis refers to a partial paralysis of the stomach or the intestines that interferes with regular digestion. In a healthy digestive system, there is a rhythmic movement of muscles that keeps food moving throughout the digestive tract. But, for individuals with DTP, those muscles are unable to contract and expand efficiently and the movement of food is slowed, causing gastroparesis (partial paralysis of the stomach) or chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction (paralysis of the intestines).
Symptoms of Digestive Tract Paralysis
According to CureJoy, individuals suffering with gastroparesis may exhibit symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and a feeling of fullness. Heartburn, night sweats, and lack of appetite have also been reported. Chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction may cause symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, constipation and bloating.
Causes of Digestive Tract Paralysis
Though both gastroparesis and chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction can be triggered by Digestive Tract Paralysis, both conditions are very different. Though they both can be brought upon by muscle function loss, problems of the nervous system, or inheritance, gastroparesis seems to have a different cause.
Individuals with gastroparesis have a damaged main signaling nerve – the vagus nerve – due to trauma or even a past surgery of the pancreas. Diabetes is also another cause, as high sugar levels have been shown to damage the vagus nerve, as well.
Living with Digestive Tract Paralysis
- Changes in eating habits are recommended. Foods low in fat and low in fiber to help speed up the process of digestion. It is best to avoid foods like whole grain cereals, broccoli, cabbage, green beans, apples, oranges, berries, nuts and seeds. Have smaller meals throughout the day – 4-6 meals.
- Practice stress-relief exercises, as stress may worsen the condition. Breathing and meditation exercises may help.
- Ginger has been the focus of many studies for supporting the digestive system by reducing the production of prostaglandins that hamper digestive movements.
- Acupuncture may also help to allieviate symptoms. In a study performed on individuals with diabetic gastroparesis, acupuncture had a total effective rate of 94.2% in reducing symptoms.