Gastroparesis: An Often Painful and Dangerous Eating Disorder Complication

Friday, October 9, 2015

Like other medical complications associated with eating disorders, gastroparesis is a particularly sinister condition that can lead to a variety of ailments – from severe fatigue to harmful bacterial infections. In simple medical lingo, gastroparesis is defined as the slowed emptying on the stomach contents. But that simple terminology belies its true dangers, as our ACUTE team has seen in many of its anorexia patients. 

In most people with healthy digestive function, strong muscular contractions propel food through the digestive tract. In gastroparesis however, food either moves slowly through the digestive tract or does not move at all, preventing the stomach from emptying properly. High fiber diets worsen gastroparesis by further delaying stomach emptying. This leads to pain in the abdomen or esophagus, nausea, vomiting and bloating. What’s worse, this interference with normal digestion can cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels, severe fatigue, malnutrition, intestinal obstruction due to the formation of bezoars (solid masses of undigested food), and infection due to bacterial overgrowth in undigested food. 

At the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders, we see this is manifest in nearly all of our severely underweight patients. 

Without expert care, recovery can be painful and difficult to manage on your own. But we can help. Your most important journey begins with this first step.