August marks the founding of Digestive Tract Paralysis Awareness Month. Over the years, New Hope Unlimited has provided many opportunities for patients to raise awareness in a variety of ways. This month, we continue to find more channels for everyone to participate and advocate in promoting familiarity with this condition and helping us fight for a cure.
To better understand the challenges of digestive tract paralysis, we’ve gathered important facts you need to know:
Digestive tract paralysis is a group of motility disorders including gastroparesis and chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction. It refers to the paralysis of the stomach (gastroparesis) or one or more parts of the intestine (intestinal pseudo-obstruction), thus interfering with your regular digestion.
In our digestive system, the rhythmic movement of smooth muscles keeps food moving throughout the system. For people with digestive tract paralysis, however, their muscles find it difficult to expand and contract, thereby slowing the movement of food. The problem can manifest as a disorder of the stomach or intestines.
Individuals suffering from gastroparesis typically show symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, and a feeling of fullness. In other cases, night sweats, heartburn, and lack of appetite are also observable. Secondary issues like dehydration and malnutrition may result from frequent vomiting over the long run.
In people with chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction, signs of real intestinal blockage such as diarrhea, bloating, nausea, constipation, and loss of appetite are common, even without any actual congestion. It is important to note that not all of these symptoms happen at the same time. Depending on the part of the intestine affected, you might experience only one or two of these.
There are various things that can cause gastroparesis and chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction. A problem in the nervous system or muscle function loss is what normally triggers them. Sometimes, a person can inherit these disorders from their immediate family. People are undergoing chemotherapy or have other illnesses like Parkinson’s disease or sclerosis are also more susceptible to digestive tract paralysis.
In gastroparesis specifically, the main signaling component between the digestive system and the brain called the vagus nerve is often found to be damaged due to past surgery of the pancreas or trauma. On the other hand, both type I and II diabetes are common culprits for gastroparesis. Doctors suspect that the continuous exposure to high sugar levels may damage the vagus nerve. While we know that diabetes is linked to gastroparesis, scientists are still yet to study the mechanism behind this in detail.
First Line Of Treatment
Most cures presently available focus on alleviating the symptoms. Medications along with changes in eating patterns are the current approaches to treat both gastroparesis and chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction. Physicians usually advise patients to eat foods that are low in fiber and fat to help speed up the process of digestion.
It‘s best to avoid vegetables like green beans, cabbage, and broccoli. Eat fruits such as berries, oranges, apples and whole-grain cereal and seeds and nuts to promote flow. Experts highly recommend taking in plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and having smaller meals, about four to six times a day.
Medication has to depend on specific symptoms. For those experiencing nausea, doctors might prescribe an anti-vomiting drug. People with diarrhea may have to take anti-kinetic medication. Pro-kinetic treatment, on the other hand, can improve bowel movements and reduce bloating and nausea.
When the symptoms become severe and lead to critica
l malnutrition, the patient will need hospital-supervised intravenous nutrition for a while. This is to help them recover until they are able to manage the condition at home.
Medical facilities are trying out novel approaches to treat digestive tract problems, in one controlled trial, experts used a pacemaker of sorts
in the digestive tract to stimulate the gastric muscles. This method helps the intestines empty faster, thereby addressing the root of the issue. Yet, due to the cumbersome nature of the equipment, the approach is still not widely accessible. Similar studies for chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction haven’t been done so far.
Many people only suffer from the condition from time to time. If you’re the same, stress might be the main cause for your transient state. Natural remedies work well in bringing relief whenever you experience digestive tract paralysis. Both meditative chanting and deep breathing can help you control stress. These can also stimulate the vagus nerve and restore its function.
Ginger is also an effective treatment for gastric disorders. It helps reduce the production of prostaglandins that prevent bowel movements. An Ayurvedic formulation, triphala, can also repair bowel motility and function. There are various animal studies that support triphala as a potential substitute for prokinetic medicines.
Traditional Chinese Medicine also has recomme
ndations for alleviating signs of indigestion. Herbal treatments and acupuncture are showing promising results. In one case study, a woman with gastroparesis took acupuncture sessions twice a week combined with a Chinese herbal medicine Xiao Ban Xia Jia Fu Ling Tang.
Results show that the method improved gastric emptying from 25 percent to 84 percent within five sessions of treatment. This ancient Chinese practice also aided people with diabetic gastroparesis, providing an effective rate of 94.2 percent in easing symptoms.
Many people are still unaware of digestive tract paralysis. Most of them do not even realize that they are already dealing with this condition, preventing them from seeking professional treatment. This month, let us inform our loved ones of these disorders and raise awareness in the community.
Take the time to reflect on your lifestyle to ensure that your digestive system is healthy. If you are suffering from the above symptoms, do see a certified practitioner first. It is vital to get the right diagnosis, so you can explore appropriate procedures and therapies.
At New Hope Unlimited, we provide holistic care for treating chronic diseases. Our science-backed, non-invasive therapies strengthen the body naturally and support its normal metabolic processes. Get the support that you need to fight your illness and become a survivor.
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